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Government is ‘failing’ Grenfell survivors

The shadow housing minister John Healey has accused the government of failing survivors and tower block residents as the six-month anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy approaches.

Mr Healey has today written to the prime minister, claiming the government has ‘failed to make good many of the promises made to Grenfell survivors and to the country’.

The Grenfell Tower tragedy occurred on 14 June, when 71 people died in the blaze.

In his letter, the shadow housing minister sets out five areas, where he claims ministers have let survivors and residents down.

The first area is the rehousing of Grenfell Tower residents. Mr Healey quotes a statement from the prime minister made on 17 June that she had ‘fixed a deadline of three weeks for everybody affected to be found a home nearby’.

Latest figures show that only 39 families have permanent homes, with more than 150 families remaining in hotels and emergency or temporary accommodation.

The shadow minister also questions the number of fire safety checks carried out in the aftermath of the tragedy. Only 274 tower blocks, out of a total of 4,000 across the country, have been tested by the government.

‘Can you confirm whether or not every tower block in the country has had an inspection by either a local authority or the fire service since the Grenfell Tower fire, to ensure proper fire safety arrangements are in place?’ writes Mr Healey.

He also questions whether the government has made enough funding available.

‘The nature of the work that has been recommended by fire service chiefs and now needs doing urgently on many high rise buildings is by its nature expensive,’ the letter states.

‘Therefore it is essential that government is prepared to fund this work up-front as necessary. However, your government has so far point blank refused all funding for landlords who cannot afford this work.’

The letter warns that no start has been made to the overhaul of building regulations, as promised.

‘This was a national disaster on a scale never seen before in this country,’ said Mr Healey. ‘We need national government leadership and action.’

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn added: ‘It is a disgrace that the majority of Grenfell residents have still not been given homes and that tower blocks across our country have still not been made safe. We need answers from the Government and we need action.

‘Grenfell was an entirely avoidable human disaster. The government must act now to prevent it from being repeated.’

Yesterday, the Equality and Human Rights Commission told the Observer newspaper that it plans to launch an inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower.

‘We are the UK’s national human rights body and we have a statutory duty to promote equality and human rights,’ said commission chair David Isaac in an interview with the newspaper.

‘We think the human rights dimension to Grenfell Tower is absolutely fundamental and is currently overlooked. Grenfell for most people in this country, particularly in the way the government has reacted, is a pretty defining moment in terms of how inequality is perceived.’

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