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Grenfell Tower: Support

Volume 626: debated on Wednesday 5 July 2017

I am announcing today that I am intervening in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The scale of the recovery effort needed on the Lancaster West estate in the months to come cannot be underestimated. Support to survivors, the families and friends of those who lost their lives and residents in the wider community must and will be ongoing. The challenge of providing that support is and will continue to be significant. I want to help the council meet that challenge.

The immediate response to the disaster is being co-ordinated by the Grenfell response team, headed up by John Barradell. He is ably supported by a number of colleagues drawn from London Councils, the wider local government sector including RBKC, the voluntary sector, police, health and fire services as well as central Government. Their expertise and hard work is making a huge difference. However this is a temporary measure to deal with the immediate need.

As well as providing that immediate support, we must have an eye to the future. This intervention is putting in place the foundations that will support the longer-term recovery. I am therefore setting out my plans for strengthening the structures that will support that recovery effort.

Following an agreement with RBKC, I will appoint an independent Recovery Taskforce with the experience and skills to advise the council on the longer-term recovery needs. The remit of the Recovery Taskforce is to provide advice and practical and strategic support to RBKC. It will work alongside the council to make sure that they have the manpower, expertise and resources necessary to take on the longer-term recovery work beyond the immediate civil emergency response.

The Recovery Taskforce will report to me directly, and will be made up of experienced and senior people with a track record in delivery, including from local government. I will announce details of the chair and membership of the Recovery Taskforce shortly. The Recovery Taskforce will be in place for as long as is required.

The Recovery Taskforce will consider all aspects of the recovery operation but will have a special focus on housing, regeneration and community engagement. It will also consider the governance of the council and the way that it operates to ensure it is able to provide effective leadership through trying and difficult circumstances.