Eddie Hughes MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rough Sleeping and Housing, has written to the residents, and those who lived close to, Grenfell Tower to confirm commitments to the promises that were made following the tragedy in 2017.
Bereaved families, survivors, and residents who lived nearby have all received a letter from Eddie Hughes to answer the questions raised at a meeting on the 25th May, as well as to emphasise the government’s commitment to improving housing standards, reforming the private rented sector, levelling up communities across the UK, and protecting leaseholders from unfair building safety bills.
Beginning the letter, Hughes said:
“Following the recent five-year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the appointment of a new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, Greg Clarke MP, I wanted to write to you personally.
I want to reassure you that the secretary of state is committed to the clear vision and direction that has been set for the department by Michael Gove MP. This includes reforming the private rented sector, improving social housing conditions, protecting leasing holders from unfair building safety bills, and levelling up communities across the United Kingdom. He is also fully aware of the conversations you have recently had with Michael Gove, the department, and me about the future of Grenfell Tower and other concerns and matters of interest to you, such as the implementation of the social housing white paper and the recent fire safety announcements. This includes discussions held during the meeting on Wednesday 25th May at the Museum of Brands.”
Hughes then went on to answer some of issues that were raised by those in the meeting. One issue was focused on the culture and responsibility of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Hughes confirmed that there have been changes at the council, however the Department of Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities are remaining in discussion with the council.
Questions about funding were raised, with how recovery money is being spent, the continuation of health services for the community after the fifth anniversary of the tragedy, as well as funding for an independent review of mental health and suicide in the community. The Under Secretary stated that the recovery money was spent to support recovery for the North Kensington community, by committing £50 million of funding in 2019 as well as referencing the Grenfell Impact Report, where the residents could find details of the work done so far. £50 million was also allocated by NHS England, by way of supporting the physical and mental health needs of the community from April 2019 to March 2024. Hughes also said that “the NHS expects that the majority of these services will continue beyond March 2024.”
With an increasing government focus on the improvement of social, accessible, and supported housing by raising standards and holding landlords or housing providers responsible, there is set to be real progress in the quality of housing available to those requiring social or accessible housing. Much of this work is being done by those in local authorities, by working with residents to ensure that housing suitable and of good enough quality to help residents lead good quality lives.