PM or­ders cash pay­ment for Gren­fell fam­i­lies

The Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - An­drew Sparrow Ewen MacAskill

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

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