PM orders cash payment for Grenfell families
Theresa May announced last night that all families left homeless by the Grenfell Tower fire will receive at least £5,500 to help them rebuild their lives.
After facing personal criticism and admitting at the weekend that the initial response to the disaster was “not good enough”, the prime minister said the government would do “absolutely everything possible to help all of those affected through the difficult days, weeks, months and years ahead”.
Responsibility for the relief effort has been taken away from the much criticised Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and handed to Gold Command, the network that manages disasters. It is embarrassing for the council, the wealthiest in Britain, to have to cede control.
Cash payments of £500 were available for families from Sunday night, and from Monday payments of £5,000 will be put into bank accounts. The money, which will come from the £5m emergency fund announced by Downing Street and which will go to families whose homes were destroyed in the fire, may be increased if necessary, for example to pay for funerals.
May said: “As we continue to respond to the needs of the community, our focus is on ensuring that all of those affected by this unimaginable tragedy get the right support as quickly as possible.”
The newly established Grenfell Fire Response Team residents group said that while it welcomed the funding, it had not been consulted before the announcement was made. They said: “We naturally welcome funds for those in need, though this does show once more the tendency to sideline residents’ views. At No 10 yesterday, the prime minister assured the group that from now on residents would be consulted on a coordinated relief effort. This has not happened with these funds.”
Today at 11am Britain will observe a minute’s silence for those killed in the fire. Police said last night that the number of people “missing, but as yet unaccounted for” as a result of the fire has risen from 58, but did not give a new figure.
The government’s response to the fire has been described as inadequate, but the Conservative-led Kensington and Chelsea council has faced particularly intense criticism over the chaos and paralysis that characterised its response. Earlier yesterday, Labour and the Liberal Democrats called for Nick Paget-Brown, the council leader, to stand down as the government, in a tacit