Grenfell Tower fire: Labour accuses Government of breaking promises to hundreds of survivors still living in hotels

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid rebuffs Shadow Housing Minister's questions as 'political point-scoring'

Lucy Pasha-Robinson@lucypasha
Thursday 19 October 2017 16:36
Labour accuses Government of breaking promises to hundreds of survivors still living in hotels

Labour has accused the Government of breaking a series of promises to the hundreds of Grenfell Tower survivors still living in hotel accommodation.

Shadow housing minister John Healey criticised the Government's rehousing efforts and nationwide fire safety tests, four months on from the tragedy that killed at least 80 people.

Asking an urgent question in the Commons, Mr Healey said: "Can [Communities Secretary Sajid Javid] confirm that 152 Grenfell households are still in hotels, despite the Prime Minister telling this House on 17 July 'I have fixed a deadline of three weeks for everybody affected to be found a new home'?"

Mr Javid accused Mr Healey of "political point-scoring", saying just 14 families had accepted permanent accommodation offers due to people being treated as "survivors" rather than "statistics".

"These people, the victims of what is easily one of the most terrible tragedies ever to have taken place in our country, they are people, they are not statistics," he said. "We must work with them and listen to what their needs are."

He also revealed 58 households of 202 were now living in temporary or permanent accommodation, but did not confirm the number that remained in hotel accommodation.

Mr Healey also asked Mr Javid to confirm the Government had tested cladding on fewer than 300 high-rise blocks, despite the Prime Minister saying in June "we can test over 100 buildings a day".

Mr Javid did not answer directly but said the testing had revealed 169 high-rise social housing buildings in England covered in aluminium composite cladding, 161 of which were unlikely to meet current safety standards.

A spotlight was also shone on council budgets after Ms May said the Government would not provide funds to retrofit tower blocks with sprinklers.

It is "up to the council to make decisions", the Prime Minister told MPs on Wednesday – amid a growing furore over the multi-million pound bills that town halls face.

Mr Javid stuck to the party line on Thursday, saying councils that were unable to afford "essential" fire safety maintenance works could apply for financial support.

However, he said it was up to the councils to decide what works were "essential" and ruled out issuing nationwide guidance.

He added that 32 councils had already expressed concern about funding for improvement works.

"We have liaised more closely with seven of these, and one of them has now submitted supporting evidence for consideration by my department," he said.

It comes as Nottingham, Croydon and Wandsworth all had multi-million pound requests for funding to fit sprinklers turned down – even after being advised to carry out works by their local fire brigades.

Additional reporting by PA

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