UK

Grenfell fire: Many survivors still in hotels

Floral tributes Image copyright EPA

All Grenfell Tower fire survivors who want to be rehoused have been offered temporary accommodation, officials say, but only nine offers have been accepted and many are still in hotels.

Theresa May promised housing would be offered to those in need by Wednesday.

The Grenfell Response Team says 139 formal offers have now been made.

But North Kensington Law Centre, which represents many victims, said some had been offered homes in other towers, other areas, or without enough rooms.

The fire on 14 June killed at least 80 people, although police say the final toll will not be known for many months.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the prime minister said 158 families would be "found a home nearby" within three weeks, later saying they would be offered "rehousing" within three weeks.

The Grenfell Response Team said that target had now been met.

It said the remaining 19 families did not want to be contacted, or were out of the country.

However, a spokesman for North Kensington Law Centre - which represents more than 100 Grenfell victims - said many of the offers had been unsuitable.

Some of the firm's clients had been offered homes in other high-rise blocks, while some had gone to view a three-bedroom home only to discover it was a two-bedroom flat.

Many had been offered a year-long tenancy and would need to be permanently rehomed afterwards.

'Traumatised'

Many victims were "concerned the decision they make now could affect their long-term tenancy", he added.

"Doing that from a hotel room is difficult at the best of times, let alone when you are fairly traumatised."

He added: "These people do have various complex issues.

"We are dealing with very traumatised people, we have a limited housing stock, we are working to a tight schedule and there is also a sense of scepticism among some residents."

Only three of the firm's clients had accepted accommodation offers, he added.

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Media captionGrenfell Tower survivor Antonio is living in a hotel and has turned down two flats.

Connie Cullen, from the homelessness charity Shelter, said people had often been unsure whether to take up residency agreements.

"It is often very difficult for people to know what the offer they are being offered means. So how long they might be there, what terms they are on, what rent they are paying.

"We are keen to see people offered like-for-like tenancies, housing and rent, so people retain the same security of tenure that they had before."

Ms Cullen said the demand for social housing following the fire was "unprecedented" but had highlighted a general lack of affordable housing in the area.

One tenant from the 10th floor of Grenfell Tower, who only gave his name as Antonio, is among those who has turned down the offer of temporary accommodation.

"We want to move to permanent accommodation so we can remake it and then we can call it home," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

In other developments:

  • Family and friends of missing Jessica Urbano released balloons to mark her 13th birthday
  • Cladding from 190 high-rise buildings in England has failed combustibility tests, the government says - an increase of nine since the last update
  • Buildings at London's King's College Hospital, Sheffield's children's hospital and the North Middlesex Trust have also failed fire safety tests
  • Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid has said public policy failings over several decades may have contributed to the disaster
  • Met Police Commander Stuart Cundy and Westminster coroner Fiona Wilcox - who will lead will the inquests - held a private meeting with victims' relatives

It comes amid growing pressure for Sir Martin Moore-Bick - the judge leading the inquiry into the fire - to stand down.

Earlier, Labour's Emma Dent Coad, MP for Kensington, said he was "a technocrat" who lacked "credibility" with victims.

She said she had spoken to hundreds of people affected by the fire who were unhappy with Sir Martin's appointment.

On Monday, lawyers representing some of the families also called for him to quit.

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Media captionEmma Dent Coad tells BBC's Today a "technocrat" is not what's needed

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stopped short of demanding his resignation, but said he should "listen to residents", while Mayor of London Sadiq Khan warned he must urgently improve relations with the area.

But one senior minister, Lord Chancellor David Lidington, said he had "complete confidence" in Sir Martin, whom he believed would lead the inquiry "with impartiality and a determination to get to the truth and see justice done".

Former Lord Chief Justice for England and Wales, Lord Judge, also defended claims that Sir Martin was a "technocrat", saying it was his job to look at the evidence "unemotionally".

"He can't come and make an emotional finding. He's got to look at the facts and decide what happened," he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

"That does not mean he's unaware of the emotional impact on those who were involved in it, but a judge can't make emotional decisions."

On Sunday, Labour MP David Lammy said a "white, upper-middle class man" who had "never" visited a tower block housing estate should not have been appointed.

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