Council spends £30m on hotels for Grenfell survivors
Kensington and Chelsea council condemned for ‘shocking’ waste of public money
Nearly £30 million has been spent on hotels for survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster, in what one MP has labelled a “shocking” waste of public money by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
According to a response by the council to a freedom of information request, in addition to the amount paid to the 59 bed and breakfasts and hostels that accommodated former residents of the Grenfell estate, £4.9m has also been spent on temporary housing.
The bill, “thought to be almost five times the cost of building the original tower block, does not include the sum given to survivors to help them pay expenses associated with living in hotels,” says The Independent.
Hotel expenditure comes on top of the £235m spent by Kensington council on 307 properties intended for Grenfell residents in the immediate aftermath of the fire, which claimed the lives of 72 people.
However, despite promises to get all of the survivors rehoused within a year, 16 months on from the blaze, more than 150 households that fled the inferno are still waiting to move into a permanent residence.
Last month, it was revealed that residents in neighbouring estates, who had been evacuated on the night of the fire, risked being evicted unless they returned to their former homes which in some cases overlooked the husk of Grenfell Tower.
Local Labour MP Emma Dent Coad, meanwhile, said Kensington council had tried to pressure disabled residents into accepting houses that did not have step-free access, accusing the local authority of “bullying” survivors and trying to blame the hotel bill on them.
“This is a shocking waste of public money due to the council’s failure to purchase properties suitable to Grenfell affected households,” she said, adding: “It is clear that despite everything that has been said in the past year, senior officers and councillors still have little idea how ordinary people live.”