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Grenfell Tower

Volume 651: debated on Monday 10 December 2018

14. What steps his Department is taking to support people directly affected by the Grenfell Tower fire. (908103)

The Government remain committed to ensuring that the survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy receive the support they need. This includes financial, practical and health support, as well as making sure that all survivors are permanently rehoused by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as quickly as possible.

It is 18 months since the tragedy of Grenfell Tower. Will the Secretary of State tell us what process is in place to deal with psychological and trauma problems still faced by the survivors of that horrific occasion 18 months ago?

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the continuing psychological and mental health issues. The NHS continues proactive outreach—there is a screening for trauma programme—and NHS support is available 24 hours a day for all who require it. NHS England has committed up to £50 million to fund long-term health checks and treatment for all those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

Latest figures this morning showed that households in hotels and in temporary accommodation add up to 107 households: 107 households will be homeless at Christmas. These are people from the Tower, the walkways and nearby buildings who are unable to come home. Some of those people have had no money. We had one case last week where someone had no money for five months. Somebody else was seen begging at Ladbroke Grove because they have no money. They are not getting the help the Secretary of State believes. Why should we believe a single word he says?

The hon. Lady rightly challenges on behalf of her constituents. What I would say to her very clearly is that 201 households from Grenfell Tower and the Walk need rehousing; 193 have accepted permanent offers and seven have accepted temporary offers; and 179 households have moved in. I accept that there needs to be more effort in relation to emergency accommodation and getting people out of hotels. Progress is being made and we will continue to support the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to do that and get people into permanent homes.

It is 18 months after Grenfell and a quarter of families are still not in permanent homes. The problem goes wider. We have found out that 16 out of the 20 tall tower blocks in Kensington, several within full view of Grenfell Tower, still do not have sprinklers, and only 4% of council blocks in London have sprinklers. Sprinklers are mandatory in new tall buildings because they keep people safe, but councils do not have the funds to retrofit social housing blocks. The Government have brushed away every single request for help as non-essential. Why do the Government continue to stigmatise and discriminate against social housing tenants?

The hon. Lady will know that one of the key elements of our social housing Green Paper was to break stigma, and I challenge very firmly to ensure that people in social housing are treated fairly and appropriately. She highlights the issue of sprinklers and is right that in relation to new builds, we have put firm requirements in place. We have said that if local councils require flexibilities to be able to assist with that and the management of those buildings, we will certainly consider that fairly, because our priority is to ensure that people living in high-rise blocks are safe.