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'Shameful' lack of post-grenfell action

11 June 2019

THE MAYOR of London, Sadiq Khan, has criticised the government’s ‘utterly shameful’ lack of action following the Grenfell Tower fire and its continued failure to support the most vulnerable in our society.

Two years after the devastating fire, the Mayor has hit out at the dismal lack of action taken by the government that has left 17 households still in emergency and temporary accommodation, a community continuing to feel ignored, neglected and lacking support, and thousands of people across the country still living in homes wrapped with unsafe cladding.

Sadiq has called the Government’s response unacceptable as he made clear that the vulnerable in our society continue to be badly let down. 

In a letter to the outgoing Prime Minister, the Mayor has highlighted the failure to tackle the injustice in our society as he called on the next Prime Minister to make this a priority and deliver the lasting change that is urgently required. 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wrote: “On 14 June 2017, a fire broke out in Grenfell Tower resulting in the tragic loss of 72 lives and devastating the community of North Kensington. At that time, your Government pledged that no one would be asked to live in unsafe homes and to take action to prevent such a disaster happening again.

The reality is that two years on from this tragedy the dismal lack of action from your Government has been utterly shameful and you have failed to deliver on your commitments. Seventeen households remain in emergency and temporary accommodations. The community continues to feel ignored and neglected, having to fight for every piece of support from the council - from receiving legal advice, accessing mental health services to simply understanding their rights.

In addition, the failed building regulations system remains largely unchanged. Thousands of people across the country are still living in homes wrapped with unsafe cladding and worry how they are going to cover the costs for making those homes safe. And the response to the social housing green paper, lauded as the Government’s answer to the institutional indifference that social housing residents have faced for years, is still not published. This is unacceptable.

The safety and well-being of Londoners is my top priority. I regularly meet with the bereaved, survivors and residents of Grenfell Tower and the wider community, including businesses that were affected by the fire. In December 2018, I visited Kensington Aldridge Academy (KAA) to announce a £50,000 donation to a Trust for KAA students. After meeting with business tenants of Transport for London, affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, I made available a relief scheme to help them recover from the disaster. Last year, I gave social housing residents a new right to be balloted in cases where landlords wish to demolish their homes. And I have for the first time introduced fire safety measures in my new Draft London Plan.

But my powers as Mayor are limited, and I do not have a role in designing and implementing the changes your Government promised, nor in delivering the services desperately needed by the bereaved, survivors and local residents. As we approach the second anniversary of the fire, the Government must listen and step up its action.”

Sadiq concluded: “At the start of your premiership, you spoke about tackling injustices in our society. Two years later we are still a long way from achieving justice and reforms. Your claim that your response to Grenfell was one of your biggest achievements as Prime Minister is far from the truth, rather it is a legacy of your premiership that vulnerable people in our society have been let down, been continuously neglected and clearly ignored. 

Whoever replaces you as Prime Minister must make it a priority to act on the issues raised in this letter. We owe it to the 72 people who tragically lost their lives at Grenfell Tower, their families, friends and the Grenfell Tower community.”

This afternoon, the Mayor will reiterate his criticism as he will tell the GMB union’s congress at Brighton that too little has changed and that communities continue to be ignored, neglected and powerless.

Sadiq will say: “Two years on – too little has changed. Lax building rules have been left untouched. Too little action has been taken to change how people in social housing are treated. Too many families are still living in emergency and temporary accommodation. And thousands of people are still living in homes with dangerous cladding.  

“In her resignation speech, the Prime Minister held up her response to Grenfell as one of her biggest achievements. But, conference, nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is the dismal lack of action from her Government has been utterly shameful.”