Permanent homes for Grenfell survivors will be ready 'very shortly' amid anger over 'unsuitable' temporary accommodation

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid claims many families had turned down temporary accomodation

Rachel Roberts
Monday 17 July 2017 23:28 BST
Sajid Javid said many survivors have turned down offers of temporary accommodation - but denied this was because it was unsuitable
Sajid Javid said many survivors have turned down offers of temporary accommodation - but denied this was because it was unsuitable (PA)

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has insisted that some permanent homes will be ready for survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire “very shortly”.

Of the 220 households affected, just nine are in temporary accommodation with the rest still in hotels or staying with friends or family.

But Mr Javid said that many families had chosen to turn down offers of temporary accommodation – leading MPs to question the suitability of the housing on offer in a parliamentary debate.

Hammersmith’s Labour MP Andy Slaughter accused the Government of “lying” over its promise to provide suitable accommodation until the promised permanent homes in Kensington are ready.

He went on to call on the Government to force Kensington and Chelsea Council to use some of the £274 million it has in reserves to build social homes.

“A growing number of Grenfell survivors are being places in budget hotels in my constituency as the central London hotels fill up for the tourist season,” he said.

“Despite these being unsuitable for long stays, especially for young families, they are being booked by the month. This gives the lie to the fact that the Government has suitable accommodation ready; not temporary, not unsuitable accommodation, permanent accommodation.

“Will the Secretary of State ask Kensington and Chelsea to take some of the £274m it has on its balance sheet and go and buy a couple of hundred homes and make sure these people have decent housing?”

Mr Javid told the House that “money was not the issue” and said instead it was the survivors choosing to stay put because they were not “ready” to move.

“I can confirm that the first new permanent homes will be available very shortly and more are being secured either in Kensington and Chelsea or very close by.

“In the meantime, good quality, fully furnished, temporary accommodation in the local area has been offered to every family.”

Emma Dent Coad, the Labour MP for Kensington, said: “I’m dealing with case workday by day and I’m amazed that only 22 households have been matched with temporary accommodation, four have moved in. What on earth is going on here?

“There are empty homes all across the borough and they are still not being taken up. They are being offered unsuitable homes.”

But Mr Javid told the House: “In terms of the families, 169 families have received offers, 30 offers of temporary accommodation have been accepted by those families, nine families have already moved in.

“As she will know full well from talking to her constituents, many families don’t feel ready to move into temporary accommodation yet and we will absolutely respect their wishes.”

Mr Javid said that more than 220 temporary homes of “good quality” had been found as suitable temporary accommodation until the promised permanent homes in Kensington become available.

The majority of those affected have expressed their wish to stay in the borough. Mr Javid asked Ms Dent Coad to pass on details of any unsuitable offers to him.

Last week, it emerged that one family was offered a flat in a tower block while a disabled woman was asked to live in a building with no lift.

The Grenfell Response Team, set up by the Government, has said all rent payments will be suspended for one year to enable the victims to get back on their feet, and that residents should feel under no pressure to take up the first offer of accommodation they receive.

The GRT has said that after the one year’s grace period, rent will be on a similar scale to council homes or social rent.

At least 80 people died when the west London block went up in flames on 14 June.

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