Labour accuses Theresa May of ‘failing the survivors' of the Grenfell Tower fire

The government has been accused of “failing the survivors” of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Shadow housing minister John Healey has written to prime minister Theresa May setting out a string of concerns about the fallout from the tragedy.

He rounded on Mrs May for making slow progress in rehousing displaced families, despite her early pledge to have everyone out of hotels within three weeks.

Five areas concerning both Grenfell survivors and tower residents more widely were outlined by the Labour MP.

They included a failure to properly address safety concerns in other high-rise blocks, after a nationwide audit found hundreds wrapped in flammable cladding.

He questioned why only a fraction of the 4,000 towers in the UK had been scrutinised for potential safety failings.

Prime minister Theresa May visited the scene after the fire (Picture: PA)

Mrs May, widely criticised for her response in the aftermath of the fire, was also urged to hasten an overhaul of building regulations and properly fund work to make tall buildings safer.


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Mr Healey said: “While there has been some progress, such as the setting up of a public inquiry and a review of building standards, these have fallen far short of what is needed, and action in other areas is severely lacking.

“Over the last six months the Government has failed to make good many of the promises made to Grenfell survivors and to the country.”

Currently only 42 households from the tower have moved into permanent new homes and 118 remain in emergency accommodation, including 103 in hotels, according to figures released last week.

Mr Healey pointed to the prime minister’s words on June 17 when she said she had fixed a deadline of three weeks “for everybody affected to be found a home nearby”.

Many families who lived in Grenfell have yet to be rehoused (Picture: PA)

He asked why more families had not been rehoused and how many would be in emergency rooms over Christmas.

His letter continued: “Why has the Government failed to provide any funding to build new homes, or to acquire existing empty homes to help survivors?”

Survivors’ confidence and willingness to participate in the public inquiry led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick was “absolutely vital” to its success, the Labour MP said.

This meant that a petition launched by around 50 victims’ families and the main survivors’ group calling for experts from a diverse range of backgrounds to sit alongside him should be considered.

The shadow minister also weighed in on a continuing tussle between councils and central government about funding for the safety installations recommended by fire chiefs.

It is “essential” that cash was set aside to finance the improvements, including £1 billion for the retro-fitting of sprinklers in older tower blocks, the Labour MP said.

Finally, he said it had been known since 2013 that building regulations were “badly flawed” and asked if the government had begun work to update them while a review was carried out by Dame Judith Hackitt

Meanwhile, the leader of the Kensington and Chelsea Council has said it is “perfectly understandable” that survivors have requested that council representatives stay away from a memorial service.

Elizabeth Campbell, who took over in the aftermath of the June disaster, will not attend the service and said she understood that the community did not want any representative from the authority at the event.

A national ceremony to mark six months since the tragedy is to be held at St Paul’s Cathedral in central London on Thursday, attended by the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Ms Campbell said she understood that the survivors did not want the council formally represented at the event.

“I believe that if they wish to take someone from the council as their guest they can,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“I think that’s perfectly understandable given the light of the situation. We, of course, will be marking our respects with a one-minute silence in the council building.”