Ministers stand accused of ignoring swathes of Grenfell’s homeless by omitting from official figures those residents too traumatised to return to the area after the blaze last year.
While Communities Secretary Sajid Javid regularly updates Parliament on efforts to rehouse those hit by the North Kensington fire, the Government’s headline figure refers only to survivors whose homes were destroyed by the fire, and excludes a further 128 households from the wider Lancaster West area.
Many of this group are too traumatised to return to their former homes. Most lost a friend or relative in the blaze and watched the fire take hold from their window.
While the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea local authority has a strategy to rehouse the 128 households - from Barandon Walk, Hurstway Walk, Testerton Walk, Treadgold House and Bramley House - and identifies them in a separate “wider Grenfell” strategy, the Government is not acknowledging their situation in the Commons.
Labour MP Emma Dent Coad accused Javid of “segregating survivors and the bereaved” and said as it was a disgrace that ministers were failing to account for them.
The Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it is “rightly” prioritising those who physically lost their home and accepted that those from the wider area cannot return home for “a variety of sometimes complex reasons”.
Dent Coad said of the revelation: “The government appears to accept that there are ‘priorities’ with the rehousing programme.
“In my opinion the ‘priority’ should be rehousing every single person who has been made homeless by the fire. It should not be a case of segregating survivors and the bereaved.”
She added that as many people from the wider estate witnessed the blaze from their living room and kitchen windows, “the mental health impact of the atrocity is huge and it is no wonder that many from the wider estate feel that they cannot return to their original homes.”
She said it was high time the government and RBKC rehoused “every single person impacted”.
Of the 128 households excluded from the government figure, 70 (55%) are still in temporary accommodation and 25 are in hotels/services apartments or staying with friends families. Thirty-three have returned home.
Justice 4 Grenfell, which campaigns for the victims of the fire, said RBKC had “continuously issued flawed data as a way of both ‘down playing’ what happened at Grenfell tower and also to renege on their statutory responsibilities.”
In a statement to HuffPost UK, the group said the figures showed “this is business as usual for the Borough leadership team, who have treated the communities of North Kensington with contempt for decades, and failed to show any real humanity following the fire.”
A Government spokesman said: “The Council rightly prioritises rehousing those from Grenfell Tower and Walk who lost their homes in the fire. There are a total of 211 households in this situation.
“There are also a number of households from the wider Lancaster West estate who were either temporarily evacuated or decided to take up emergency accommodation following the fire.
“Whilst the majority of these households have returned home, a number do not currently feel able to for a variety of sometimes complex reasons.”
A total of 71 people lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire in June.
A judge-led public inquiry into what caused the disaster is under way.