Grenfell Tower

Thank you for contacting me about the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, the worst fire tragedy since the King's Cross fire in 1987. The response of residents themselves and those people who have provided help, compassion and support has once again shown the fantastic spirit of London and the best of Britain. I also pay tribute to the firefighters and paramedics who responded selflessly.

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 and a criminal investigation has also been established.

I understand that there has been considerable concern about the response of the local council. It is a long-standing convention that councils have to ask for help from other councils or the government when handling situations like this and it took three days for that to be triggered. 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. 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.

Investigations into other tower blocks is underway and many problems identified. In Camden, similar cladding was used in 2005 but considerably greater fire concerns have been raised and residents evacuated. This will take some time to get right but I can assure you that the Government is working with councils to address this issue.