Grenfell anniversary: why haven’t survivors been rehoused?

More than 60 households are still living in emergency accommodation a year on from the tower block fire

Grenfell Tower
Smoke continues to rise from the smouldering shell of Grenfell Tower
(Image credit: Carl Court/Getty Images)

In the year since the Grenfell Tower fire, Theresa May’s government has made - and broken - several promises to the survivors of the worst tower block blaze in living memory.

Speaking in the Commons on the eve of the first anniversary of the tragedy, the PM made another pledge to those who lost everything in the fire that claimed the lives of 72 people.

"Let me again reassure the House that we are doing everything that we can to see that the survivors of Grenfell get the homes and support that they need and the truth and justice that they deserve,” she said during Prime Ministers’ Questions yesterday.

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But many argue that the time for fresh promises has long since passed. “What is needed now is action, and specifically, permanent homes,” The Independent says in an editorial.

How many people still need to be rehoused?

In the wake of the fire, Housing Minister Alok Sharma assured survivors that Kensington and Chelsea council would provide residents of the 138 flats with a permanent home within a year. He also gave them the government’s guarantee that everyone would be rehoused in the local area.

In March, the government admitted that it would miss this deadline. No new timescale was given. The PM has also gone back on the pledge to keep survivors in the area.

According to the council, 198 of the 203 households from Grenfell Tower and the adjacent Grenfell Walk have now accepted an offer of a home. A total of 135 of these have moved in - 52 into a temporary home, 83 into a permanent home, the BBC reports.

This means 68 households are still living in emergency accommodation a year on from the fire.

What’s behind the delay?

Kensington and Chelsea council said staff are doing “everything they can” to rehouse families as quickly as possible and support them in rebuilding their lives.

“We have already committed £235m to secure 307 homes, so that people have maximum choice available,” the added.

But many residents say they have been forced to reject properties offered to them. Survivors told The Independent he had been offered “totally unsuitable” properties with no living rooms and in high tower blocks.

Others said that the homes they had been offered were too far from their local community or were in need of extensive repairs and would only be made available in 2019.

Shadow Home Secretary Dianne Abbott says the council is adopting “a take it or leave it” attitude.

“Unforgivably, they try to imply Grenfell residents are too choosy. All they want is a decent home, and to be closer to children’s school and their existing social connections,” she said.

“They’ve had 12 months,” the Labour MP added. “There is no excuse at all for not being able to offer people suitable housing.”

But Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, says the reliance on emergency or temporary accommodation is a symptom of Britain’s housing crisis.

“It isn't really true to say that the council haven't made any effort to rehouse people,” she told the BBC. "It also isn't true to say that the former residents of Grenfell are being fussier than they should be in any way.

"There is a dire shortage of housing, and if that teaches us anything, it's that we need to be building more housing.”

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