“Europe’s richest borough” should dip into its reserves and buy accommodation for those made homeless by the Grenfell Tower fire .
That is the view of Robert Atkinson, leader of the opposition Labour group in Kensington and Chelsea, who spoke to getwestlondon on Wednesday (July 5) - on the three-week deadline the Government set itself for offering housing to all of those displaced by the blaze.
It comes as the majority of survivors remain in hotels, with just nine households hoping to be moved out of emergency accommodation accepting offers for more permanent living arrangements.
The Grenfell Response Team (GRT) said 139 offers had been made following 158 housing needs assessments in Kensington and Chelsea or neighbouring boroughs, while 19 families were contacted and had either refused assistance or were abroad.
Cllr Atkinson, who has previously accused the Conservative administration “of acting like a bank” , said the council was the richest in the continent, and is exasperated by the problems faced by the Grenfell homeless.
He said: “The council should go out and buy property.
“We have identified are 162 individual properties in the north of the borough, we have the money and we have the property.
“Just go out and bloody buy it.”
Survivors have been upset with accommodation offered, with many properties either out of the borough, unsuitable, too expensive or on a one-year contract.
One resident reported being shown a two-bed property when they required a three-bed, others had been offered places in high-rises, and another survivor was said to have been offered permanent accommodation with the caveat that no guests could stay overnight.
GRT has said rent will be suspended for one year and thereafter will be of a “similar scale to a council house social rent”, while survivors should feel under no pressure to take up the first offers.
Pilgrim Tucker, a campaigner working with Grenfell Tower families, told the Press Association: “Their concern is they are not being talked to properly, just being presented with an offer.
“People are being texted saying ‘here is your offer, it is rent free for a year and then it is £400 a week’ - that is triple what they are paying before.”
A spokesman for the North Kensington Law Centre called on the Government to ensure messages were being communicated clearly on the ground to prevent survivors experiencing “additional stress”.
He said: “Three weeks on from the Grenfell Fire disaster, many of our clients are still staying in short-term, temporary accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs.
“The Government have made promises about putting the survivors in temporary and permanent housing, which is welcome.
“However, there are unanswered questions about whether those residents will have to pay more rent than they did previously, and whether their new tenancies, both temporary and permanent, will guarantee them the same rights and protections they had before.”
In the days after the tragedy 68 social housing flats in the £2bn Kensington Row development were acquired to house families affected by the disaster .
On Wednesday (July 5) the government is expected to announce a specialist taskforce to be sent into the borough to take over the running of key services including housing and regeneration.