‘Hundreds’ died in Grenfell Tower fire, says shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott

The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington also blames the disaster on Tory attitudes towards social housing

Saturday 24 June 2017 13:09
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Diane Abbott: Hundreds of people died in Grenfell Tower fire

Hundreds of people died in the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Diane Abbott has claimed.

The current death toll is at 79 but the shadow Home Secretary said she expected this to rise into the hundreds.

The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington blamed the disaster on Conservative attitudes towards social housing.

“Grenfell Tower is not just an accident; Grenfell Tower is not just an unfortunate incident. Those hundreds of people that died are a direct consequence of Tory attitudes in social housing,” Ms Abbott told a conference of the Labour Progress group.

"The Tories think people in social housing are second-class citizens. And, as we have seen from Grenfell House, they are offering them second-class standards of safety. So, a direct consequence of that. A direct consequence of outsourcing ... and a direct consequence of deregulation."

After the event, Ms Abbott reaffirmed her belief the current death toll would be revised upwards.

"I think we are going to find that the numbers of people that have died will be in triple figures, just because it's a 23-storey (sic) block," she said.

Ms Abbott said people in Government needed to answer questions about why they did not implement recommendations made after previous fires.

The fire, which tore into the 24-storey high-rise in Kensington, has left scores of people without homes.

Locals claim Grenfell Tower fire death toll 'in hundreds'

Jeremy Corbyn and senior Labour MPs, including Ms Abbott, had called for properties left vacant in Kensington and Chelsea by overseas investors to be “requisitioned” in order to rehouse those who had been left homeless.

The Government has now announced that survivors will permanently be rehoused in a £2bn luxury apartment block in Kensington.

Some 68 flats have been bought by the Government at the upmarket Kensington Row development just off Kensington High Street, Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, said.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said the “expectation is that these new properties will be offered as one of the options to permanently rehouse residents from Grenfell Tower”.

The properties are “newly built social housing” at a site where private homes are on offer from £1,575,000 to £8.5m.

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