Grenfell Tower fire: Government to give homeless families £5,500 per household as part of £5m fund

Money will be made available from Monday in the form of a cash payment and bank transfer from the Department of Work and Pensions

Caroline Mortimer
Sunday 18 June 2017 20:25
Grenfell Tower fire: Protesters storm Kensington Town Hall

The Government has announced it will give the residents of Grenfell Tower at least £5,500 per household as part of its pledge to spend £5m helping them back onto their feet.

Downing Street said every household who lost their home in the fire that tore through the 24 storey tower on Wednesday morning would receive a minimum payment from the fund to help them pay for funeral costs, find new places to live and replace belongings.

This will include a £500 cash payment which No 10 said has already been made available to those affected. A further £5,000 will be paid to each family through the Department of Work and Pensions into bank accounts or through similar single payments.

It comes as Kensington and Chelsea Council is castigated for its "chaotic" response to disaster.

One of the volunteers who rushed to help the families, Nisha Parti, said they had been put up in hotels with just £10 a day to spend on all their food and essentials.

She said volunteers are now bringing to food packages to where these people are staying to help them cope but added that they had yet to see the money promised by the council.

Hundreds of people descended on community centres and churches following the disaster that left at least 58 people dead, donating food, clothes and nappies while others raised almost £3m for the victims on websites such as JustGiving.

But the council, which owned Grenfell Tower, has been accused of failing to coordinate a proper disaster response.

On Friday angry crowds storm the council’s headquarters after demanding answers about the lack of information, support and why they choose to use flammable cladding – which is believed to have caused the fire to spread – on the building in the first place.

After meeting with some of the victims in Downing Street on Saturday, Theresa May admitted “support on the ground for families who needed help or basic information” in the immediate aftermath of the fire "was not good enough".

Ms May, who has since ordered more boots on the ground at the scene, is said to have "welled up" after hearing harrowing accounts from people caught up in the fire.

Meanwhile an emergency taskforce spearheaded by Ealing Council has taken over the relief effort from Kensington and Chelsea.

The executives from other London boroughs, Government staff, NHS workers and British Red Cross volunteers are now running operations at Westway Sports Centre.

At least 58 people died, or are missing, presumed dead, in the Grenfell Tower tragedy

Council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown defended his authority’s response, telling BBC’s The World This Weekend: “This was a huge, sudden disaster, a complete tragedy. No one borough alone would be able to cope with the scale of it.”

He added: “The magnitude of this disaster on Wednesday is such that one borough alone would [not] be able to manage every aspect of trying to assess people, help people whose first language isn’t English, help people with young children, with frightened elder relatives. They need a range of specialist support.”

But one volunteer said Ealing Council was already being “much more co-operative” than Kensington and Chelsea.

She told BuzzFeed News: “It was very different to get hold of information through [Kensington], we weren’t able to get things done as quickly as possible. Just generally [they had] too much going on in the last few days.

“I think their priorities and organisation was a bit of chaos, it was like being in a disaster zone.”

Additional reporting by PA

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