Kensington MP: Amount spent on Grenfell survivor hotels enough to 'build tower three times'

Nearly £21 million has been spent keeping Grenfell Tower survivors in hotel rooms, new figures suggest

Nearly £21 million has been spent keeping Grenfell Tower survivors in hotel rooms, new figures suggest

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Nearly £21 million has been spent keeping Grenfell Tower survivors in hotel rooms, enough to have built the original block an estimated three times over, new figures suggest.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) paid £20.9 million in hotel bills between the fire last June and mid-February, according to information obtained by the Press Association.

A further £8 million was run up financially supporting families and individuals who lost everything, dozens of whom have now spent nine months living in hotels.

RBKC has been heavily criticised for the length of time taken to find permanent new homes since the west London inferno left 71 dead and hundreds destitute on June 14.

Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad said architects working on the surrounding Lancaster West estate during the 1970s estimate it would have cost around £500,000 to build Grenfell Tower.

The 24-storey block was constructed between 1972 and 1974, meaning in today's money the sum would be as high as £6.2 million, less than a third of the council's hotel expenditure.

Ms Dent Coad condemned the findings and called for commissioners to be drafted in to run the council rehousing drive.

She told the Press Association: "Kensington and Chelsea Council tax payers will be shocked to hear that our wasteful and incompetent Council has already spent nearly £30 million keeping survivors and bereaved families in hotels.

"The Tower would have cost in the region of £500,000 when first built. It was a very solid construction built to last 100 years. I can't look at it now.

"I spend a great deal of time visiting displaced families in hotels, and without exception they want permanent homes which suit their needs, but are not being offered anything suitable.

"Their lives are not only on hold; for many this has lost them jobs and businesses, and destroyed their ability to work or study.

"I cannot understand why the Government hasn't sent in commissioners to take over the re-housing process."

But deputy council leader Kim Taylor Smith hit back at the Labour MP, who is also an RBKC councillor. 

Mr Taylor Smith said: "From the statement given by the local MP, I'm assuming she would prefer us to not spend money on giving people a roof over their head after the Grenfell Tower tragedy?

"It is also clear she is out of touch and has not understood the challenges of purchasing over 300 good quality homes in her constituency.

"We have staff doing everything they can to rehouse families as quickly as possible. We've already spent £235m to secure 307 homes, to ensure that people have the maximum choice available.”