Families who lost their homes in the Grenfell Tower tragedy almost two years ago are still living in hotels, a minister has admitted in the Commons.
The catastrophic blaze in North Kensington claimed the lives of 72 people in June 2017 and pushed more than 180 households into temporary accommodation.
Nearly two years on from the fire, housing minister Kit Malthouse disclosed that 15 families made homeless by the fire are still living in hotels or serviced apartments.
Speaking during a debate in Westminster on the scale of the housing crisis facing the UK on Tuesday night, he admitted that, while the government is “very close” to being able to rehouse everyone who lost their home it was failing a “small number”.
He added: “As well as feeling more secure, nothing is more important than people being safe in their homes, so we will also be implementing a new regulatory framework for building safety.
“It is no small task, but it is the debt we owe to those who suffered so terribly at Grenfell fire.”
Shadow housing secretary John Healey said one in ten of those from the tower, and one in three from those in the wider estate involved in the Grenfell Tower fire have still not got permanent new homes.
He added that eight out of ten buildings with similar cladding had still not had it removed and replaced.
“Nearly two years on from that shocking national tragedy, the Government action is still on go-slow,” he added.
Malthouse claimed the government had been “putting enormous effort” into rehousing people.
He said: “Every one has accepted an offer of either high quality temporary accommodation or permanent accommodation. A hundred and ninety six have moved in. A hundred and eighty one have moved into their permanent home, and 15 remain in temporary accommodation.
“Six whole households remain in emergency accommodation, only two in hotels, and three in serviced apartments, and one is living with family or friends.”
Malthouse said the Government had been dealing with the situation “slowly and sensitively”, and noted no one can be “compelled” to do anything they don’t want to do.
Healey said he was “doing the survivors a disservice” by telling a story which is “at odds” with the experience of those people affected by the fire.
Labour MP Liam Byrne, who represents Birmingham Hodge Hill, attacked Malthouse on the government’s record on homelessness.
He said he was “staggered to hear the minister’s complacency about homelessness”, saying that in his region under a Tory mayor it was up by 333%.
He said people are “dying at the rate of one a fortnight”, and read out the names of everyone who had died in the last 15 months on the streets of Birmingham.
Byrne, a former minister, said he has seen people living “in subways in their hospital gowns” and those suffering from “rat bites, fighting and fearing sepsis”.
He said the names were “a roll call of shame”, and called for the building of a “permanent memorial (so) we are confronted every day with the names of those who died and the names of those we have failed”.
He added: “But the best memorial would be to end this scandal for good, and sweep the disgrace of homelessness into the history books once more.”