William Eichler 12 June 2018

Council efforts to rehouse Grenfell survivors ‘fallen way short’, report says

Council efforts to rehouse Grenfell survivors ‘fallen way short’, report says image

Kensington and Chelsea council’s performance in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy has ‘fallen way short’, according to a new report into the rehousing of those who survived the fire.

Published by North Kensington Law Centre, the report found that out of 209 households from Grenfell Tower and Walk, just 82 have moved into permanent accommodation.

This is despite a council pledge that survivors would be rehoused permanently in social housing within 12 months.

It also revealed that, one year on from the tower block fire that killed 72 people, 55 of the surviving households are still residing in temporary accommodation and 72 remain in emergency accommodation.

A further 128 households from the surrounding Lancaster West Estate were also evacuated after the fire. 88 of these are in emergency or temporary accommodation, and only one has secured permanent accommodation.

‘It is our view that the council’s performance has fallen way short. This has resulted in unacceptable delays to rehousing survivors of the fire,’ the report read.

‘This is of significance not just because most survivors have been forced to wait too long to be rehoused, in breach of the pledges to survivors made by the Government and the council.

‘But also because the manner in which survivors have been rehoused and the associated delays have added to the community’s suffering.’

North Kensington Law Centre, which has provided free legal advice to around 250 households from Grenfell Tower, Grenfell Walk, and the surrounding area, also recorded the impact of the fire and housing delays on North Kensington residents.

Around 11,000 residents, including 900 children, are believed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues following the fire.

The law centre, drawing on previous research from the mental health charity Mind, suggested the poor housing situation is making these problems worse.

Responding to the report, Cllr Elizabeth Campbell, leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, said: ‘It has been a hugely complex challenge, but 90% of families have accepted an offer of a permanent home, and 90% of these homes are ready to move into.

‘I have seen and heard the personal stories bravely told in the first two weeks of the public inquiry, every day. The families involved are not statistics that need to be moved around a balance sheet.

‘So, we will no longer set deadlines. They are not required. What is required is understanding, support, and above all a willingness to do everything we can to help. No matter how large or small the task.’

‘We must do everything we can to rehouse families as quickly as possible and support them in rebuilding their lives,’ she continued.

‘We have already committed £235m to secure 307 homes, so that people have maximum choice available.

‘We continue to look at the barriers stopping people moving into a new home, but we all have to accept that one of the barriers is trust in the council itself – that is something we understand, and accept, and it will take time to rebuild.’

Kensington & Chelsea RLBC’s leader praised the families affected and paid tribute to those who died a year on from the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The Brownfield Land Release Fund image

The Brownfield Land Release Fund

To what extent does this early initiative of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities deliver on the ‘levelling up’ agenda? Lawrence Turner reports.
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