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Grenfell Tower fire: Council commits £76million to help rehouse survivors

A package of measures were approved by senior Kensington and Chelsea councillors, but some left homeless from the disaster say they feel "cheated"

Kensington and Chelsea Council has committed £76.6million towards rehousing Grenfell Tower survivors .

The local authority waved through the package at a meeting of senior councillors in Kensington Town Hall on Thursday (August 24).

£40million will be spent on homes bought from private social housing providers, while a budget of £20million was also agreed to purchase new homes worth up to £1.5million from the housing market.

Between £15million and £16.5million has also been put aside to find permanent homes for the 17 leaseholders whose homes in the tower or Grenfell Walk were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable.

The Hortensia Flats and town houses in Chelsea, west London, which will be offered to Grenfell survivors as permanent housing(Image: John Stillwell/PA Wire)

The £40million budget, meanwhile, will be used in part to ensure residents of Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk pay no more than they did in their former homes, it added.

Rent, service charges, council tax and utilities bills will also be suspended for the first year of their new tenancy.

But some residents at the meeting said they felt “insulted” and “cheated” by the council.

Hundreds were left homeless when fire broke out at the 24-storey block on June 14, killing at least 80, with the majority still in hotels or temporary accommodation.

Leader of Kensington & Chelsea Council Elizabeth Campbell in the living room and kitchen of a two bedroom flat in Chelsea which will be offered to Grenfell survivors as permanent housing(Image: John Stillwell/PA Wire)

However, the council’s valuation of the leaseholder properties caused friction, with one Grenfell resident saying they would be left unable to buy a similar flat in the area.

Fahed Barakat, 32, choked back tears as he lamented the loss of his home in Grenfell Tower, while accusing the council of attempting to “cheat” them.

He said: “I think I find this offer quite insulting, mainly because the way I see it and the other leaseholders see it, the proposal seems intent on cheating leaseholders of their home.

“It is impossible to find a property for the same amount you are offering in the area.”

The living room and kitchen of a two bedroom flat being offered to Grenfell survivors(Image: John Stillwell/PA Wire)

Tiago Alves, another Grenfell leaseholder, said the council had to meet the residents’ valuation of the flats as no-one in the building had wanted to sell their home.

The council estimated if all leaseholders agreed to a deal to purchase new properties using an interest-free loan of up to 150% of their flat’s market value, it would cost £16.5million.

Breaking down that estimation, Mr Alves said, with 17 leaseholder properties in Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk, it meant the council believed they were worth between £300,000 and £350,000.

He said: “If someone came up to me and offered £350,000 on June 14 I would have laughed in their face.”

Deputy council leader Kim Taylor-Smith responded that the leaseholders would have the option to carry out their own independent valuation of the flats, paid for by the authority.

A kitchen in a flat in Hortensia Road(Image: John Stillwell/PA Wire)

A consultation with the leaseholders will now go ahead to decide how they will secure a new home.

Council leader Elizabeth Campbell was at the meeting and said: “We understand that Grenfell survivors have a long and difficult journey ahead as they start to rebuild their lives.

“We also understand that, for many, being handed the keys to a permanent home is the first part of this process.

“While the council is looking to acquire homes on new developments and pre-existing properties, this will take time and that’s why we are working with social housing providers to secure a supply of permanent accommodation that survivors can move into as soon as they are ready.

“To date, we have purchased more than 100 properties and over the coming months, we will spend tens of millions acquiring new homes. Let me be clear, this council will not stop until every single Grenfell survivor is rehoused.”

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