What happened at Grenfell Tower is a truly horrific tragedy and my thought are with all of those involved.
The response of people who have provided help, compassion and support has once again shown the fantastic spirit of London and shows the fine work of our emergency services, who put their lives in danger to save others.
I completely understand the shock, concern, anger and frustration that exists as a result of this. The Prime Minister has ordered a full, judge-led public inquiry, which will give people the answers they deserve.
Everything is being done to support the victims and their families. The Grenfell Tower Recovery task force was set up in the aftermath of the tragedy to ensure a coordinated response. It is chaired by the Prime Minister and includes representation from a number of government departments. The government is working with the local authority to ensure that people who lost their homes in the disaster are rehoused in the local area at the earliest opportunity (within 3 weeks at the latest). The government is also working with local authorities, housing associations, fire and rescue services, and fire safety experts to ensure that all similar buildings are checked and that residents are assured of this.
A new £5 million Grenfell Tower Residents' Discretionary Fund has also been made immediately available to help those who had to flee their homes. Every household whose home has been destroyed will receive a guaranteed £5,500 minimum down payment from the fund. This money could be used to cover loss of possessions, funerals and emergency supplies. I understand that the fund will be kept under review and will increase if necessary.
On building safety, the Budget also re-confirmed that, where measures are essential to make a building fire safe, the Government will make sure that current restrictions on the use of local authority financial resources will not prevent them going ahead. The Hackitt Review is also assessing the effectiveness of the current building and fire safety regulations and related compliance and enforcement issues, with a focus on multi-occupancy high rise residential buildings.
While the final report of the Hackitt Review will not be published until spring of this year, I welcomed the findings of its interim report which called for a culture change wherein the construction industry should take on greater responsibility for what is built. The interim report also highlighted a number of broad areas for change, including improvements to the process, compliance and enforcement of regulations, as well as creating a quick and effective route for residents' voices to be listened to.
The disaster at Grenfell Tower should never have happened: the police investigation and public inquiry will find out why it did, to ensure this can never happen again.