Housing Secretary James Brokenshire has written to all Grenfell Tower survivors who remain in hotels almost a year after the blaze, pledging he will “not rest until everyone is settled into new homes”.
Mr Brokenshire, updating the Commons on the progress of rehousing those affected, said that 198 out of 203 households have accepted a permanent or temporary accommodation offer, with 134 having moved in.
Mr Brokenshire, who was flanked by the Prime Minister, told MPs he was “very concerned” about the number of households still in hotels.
He said: “The 14 June 2017 saw the greatest loss of life in a residential fire since the Second World War – 71 people lost their lives on the night of the fire and a former tower resident who was rescued from the 19th floor passed away earlier this year.
“A catastrophe of this kind should never have happened in the UK in 2017 and when it did the initial response was not good enough.
“I remain very concerned about the 43 households who are living in hotels. My ministerial team has met with many of them and I personally have written to all of them to find out what barriers exist in each individual case and how we can overcome them.
“This is not where any of us wanted to be a year on from the fire. While there has been progress in recent weeks, overall the pace has been too slow.
“We will not rest until everyone is settled into new homes.”
Shadow housing secretary John Healey said the Government’s response “has not been good enough”. He said: “It is still not good enough, and the time for warm words is long past. It’s more action, not more apologies that are now needed.
“On rehousing survivors, Grenfell residents feel they were failed before the fire and many feel failed since.” He added that a deadline for rehousing all survivors is needed, telling MPs: “Without a deadline, more words of regret will simply ring hollow with the still-homeless residents of Grenfell Tower.”
Mr Brokenshire said he will work with Labour to introduce changes following Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of building regulations and fire safety, adding: “In honour of all of those who lost their lives, we must get this right and this is what this Government intends to do.”
Labour’s Marsha de Cordova said some leaseholders in her Battersea constituency fear having costs of between £40,000 and £50,000 passed on to them to carry out fire safety work, adding action is required to ensure this does not happen.
Mr Brokenshire said he believes industry is “starting to listen” and added: “It is the landlords and the building owners themselves who should bear that responsibility and cost.
“As I’ve said, if that does not happen then I will keep all issues under review.”