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Grenfell Tower Fire

Volume 627: debated on Monday 17 July 2017

7. By what date all those who have lost their homes as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire will be permanently re-housed. (900508)

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.

I am sorry; I am not too sure about the formalities of this. In some cases, people are refusing homes because one single unsuitable offer has been made to them. That is absolutely true. I am dealing with casework daily, and I am amazed that only 22 households have been matched with temporary accommodation; four have moved in. What on earth is going on? There are empty homes all across the borough, and they are still not being taken up. People are being offered unsuitable homes. Could the Secretary of State please say what is happening here?

First of all, I can tell the hon. Lady that over 220 temporary homes have been identified and inspected—that is all good-quality, available accommodation. She referred to unsuitable offers; she should certainly bring those details to me, and we will look at them and take this very seriously. There are 169 families who have received offers; 30 offers of temporary accommodation have been accepted, and nine families have already moved in. As she knows full well from talking to her constituents, many families do not feel ready to move into temporary accommodation, and we will absolutely respect their wishes.

That may well be the case further down the line, but right now, the absolute priority is to do whatever is necessary to help the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy to get into those homes. All those costs will be met by Government wherever necessary.

Is it not absolutely crucial that we increase the amount of social housing available in Kensington and Chelsea? The Government have announced that 68 properties provided by Berkeley will be made available as social housing. Is it not true that negotiations were under way to provide those homes as social housing under a section 106 agreement before the Grenfell fire? So where are the extra new homes coming from?

First, I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s re-election as Chair of the Select Committee on Communities and Local Government. I agree that we want more social homes—and not just in Kensington and Chelsea; we want to make sure that that choice is offered across the country. With regard to the 68 homes in the Kensington Row development, to which I think he was referring, my understanding was that they were originally planned to be affordable homes, not social homes, so they will be additional. Despite that, given what has happened and the need for social homes in Kensington and Chelsea, we should do more.