The tragic events at Grenfell Tower have shocked us all deeply. I completely understand the shock, concern, anger and frustration that have since arisen and our first thoughts must be with those who have lost loved ones, friends and homes. I would also like to pay tribute to our emergency services who have done an outstanding job in the most difficult of circumstances.

A disaster of this scale clearly requires a comprehensive Government response. We have, therefore, set up a dedicated Grenfell Tower recovery task force, chaired by the Prime Minister. There are a number of further actions that the Government will now take to ensure that people who have been directly affected are cared for and receive the support they need. This includes: 

  • Rehousing people who lost their homes at the earliest possible opportunity, aiming to do this within 3 weeks at the latest. We will rehouse people as close as practically possible to where they previously lived, so that they can continue to access the same public services such as their local school or local GP.

    Until people are rehoused, the cost of temporary accommodation will be met on their behalf. The Government will also provide any necessary financial assistance to families who have been rehoused so that children and their parents do not incur any extra costs travelling to school. 

  • A new £5 million Grenfell Tower Residents’ Discretionary Fund will be made immediately available to help those who had to flee their homes in order to cover loss of possessions, funerals and emergency supplies. 

  • We have also activated the Bellwin scheme whereby any immediate and uninsurable extra costs incurred by the council in the aftermath of the disaster will be met by the Government. 

  • We are sending significant Government support to the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea - a team of experienced central government civil servants from the Department of Communities & Local Government has been embedded into the local council to assist officers. 

  • The Treasury is working with the banks to ensure that those affected by the disaster who lost possessions such as bank cards still have access to their accounts. 

  • The Department for Work & Pensions is working with local job centres to ensure that those affected have access to the benefits and pensions they would normally receive. 

  • HMRC have stopped any letters, emails or calls to residents affected, and will explore giving extra time to self-employed people who have payments due. 

Alongside these practical measures, the Government is acting quickly to reassure people living in similar buildings that they are safe. We are checking at speed with local authorities whether all high-rise buildings in their area have complied with recent fire orders (work required following an inspection); identifying all high-rise buildings owned or managed by Housing Associations or Local Authorities; and conducting a fire safety review of all buildings similar to Grenfell Tower. 

I can assure you that the Government will continue to work tirelessly to answer the question of how this tragedy has happened, so that it will never be repeated. The Prime Minister has acknowledged, and apologised, that the initial response to the tragedy was not good enough, and a number of investigations are already underway - a police criminal investigation; and a fire service investigation to ascertain as quickly as possible the exact cause of the fire so that any action that is required as a result of that work can be taken. 

There will also be an independent public inquiry, led by a Judge, ensuring that residents’ voices are heard and we will provide funding for their legal representation to make sure this happens. The families of victims will be consulted on the terms of reference under which the inquiry proceeds, and the timeline of the inquiry, and name of the judge chairing it, will follow shortly. 

The Prime Minister’s latest statement to the House of Commons can be found here https://hansard.digiminster.com/commons/2017-06-22/debates/E4B84F46-4699-4725-BBE4-AA724C3A0191/GrenfellTower, and I will continue to keep this page updated with details of the latest situation.