Law centre outlines council’s failure to rehouse Grenfell survivors

Nearly one year on from the Grenfell Tower disaster, the North Kensington Law Centre has submitted a report to The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea about its failures to rehouse Grenfell survivors.

Rehousing Grenfell Survivors: One Year On, published by the North kensington Law Centre (NKLC), finds that Kensington and Chelsea council worsened the trauma of many survivors by taking far too long to rehouse them through a string of errors, falling ‘way short’ of what should be expected.

Although 90 per cent of the 209 households requiring rehousing have accepted permanent accommodation, just 82 have moved. The law centre stresses that the government has broken its promise to rehouse families within a year of the disaster and needed to set a new deadline.

It also says the council has spent £235 million on securing 307 properties to help rehouse people, but ‘the fact that so much of this housing stock has lay empty for up to six months as it is being made habitable is illustrative of the fact that many of these purchases were not suitable’.

The report also criticises the council’s communications, which ‘remain substandard, saying that the cumulative impact of all the errors is likely to be significant.

Alex Diner, a policy officer for the law centre, said: This is of significance not just because most survivors have been forced to wait too long to be rehoused and because pledges have again been broken, but also because the manner in which residents have been rehoused and the associated delays have added to their suffering. Too many have been placed under undue pressure to accept housing offers and been given incorrect information by frontline [council] staff. This shatters survivors’ confidence and undermines what little trust was already there.”

Discussing the rehousing problems, Elizabeth Campbell, the leader of the council, said: “It has been a hugely complex challenge, but 90 per cent of families have accepted an offer of a permanent home and 90 per cent 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.”

The anniversary of the fire that killed 72 people is on 14 June. Writing in the Evening Standard, ahead of that data, Prime Minister Theresa May has admitted her initial response to the Grenfell Tower fire was not good enough, saying she will ‘always regret’ not meeting survivors of the blaze when she first visited the site.