James Brokenshire: We must do everything we can to ensure Grenfell can never happen again
The courage and determination of the Grenfell community should be an inspiration to us all. I am committed to ensuring that they get justice – and that this is never allowed to happen again, writes James Brokenshire
This Thursday 14 June will mark a year since the Grenfell Tower fire. This was an unimaginable tragedy, the greatest loss of life in a residential fire since the Second World War. Nobody could fail to be moved at the start of the Public Inquiry by the extraordinary tributes paid by family and friends to the loved ones they lost. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Grenfell community at this most difficult of times.
This was a tragedy that should never have happened. And when it did, the immediate response was simply not good enough.
Since then, the government has been doing everything it can to do right by those who lost their lives and the Grenfell survivors. Since becoming Secretary of State in April, I have met some of the bereaved and survivors and visited the site. Providing them and the wider community with the support they need is one of my priorities.
The government and public services have been working together to ensure everyone who needs it has access to mental health support or advice on benefits. Nick Hurd MP was appointed as Grenfell Victims’ Minister to ensure the voice of the community is at the centre of decision making. So far over £46 million has been spent and a further £34 million has been committed, which will fund new mental health services and investment in the Lancaster West Estate and a new community space.
Most importantly, the council has been working to find new places to live for all those families who lost their home in the fire, and ensure these are of the highest quality and safety standards. Progress has been made with moving households into permanent homes and properties are ready to move into. However, it is a complex picture and there is still a way to go. I will not rest until everyone is moved into a new home that suits their needs.
Secondly, we must secure justice. We are fully supporting the work of the Public Inquiry and Metropolitan Police investigation.
Finally, we must do everything we can to ensure this can never happen again. The government has committed to fully funding the removal and replacement of unsafe cladding with costs estimated at £400 million. And remediation work is already underway in two thirds of buildings in the social housing sector. Some building owners in the private sector have been taking action and will not pass costs onto leaseholders, and we expect more to do the same. I have been meeting leaseholders and representatives from the private sector and am considering further steps address this issue.
In May, Dame Judith Hackitt published her review into building regulations and fire safety and we have begun acting on her conclusions – we are committed to bringing forward legislation and giving residents a stronger voice.
Having listened carefully to arguments for going further to ban combustible materials in cladding systems on high-rise buildings, the government is also of this view and will be launching a consultation.