Prime Minister Theresa May: ‘support on the ground for people … not good enough.’

Prime Minister Theresa May. Image: @Number10Gov

Prime Minister, Theresa May, spoke to Grenfell Tower residents, and local community leaders for two and a half hours today at Downing Street, and then issued a statement saying support for people affected had not been good enough.

She said:

The fire at Grenfell Tower was an unimaginable tragedy for the community, and for our country. My Government will do whatever it takes to help those affected, get justice and keep our people safe.

The Metropolitan Police has been pressured into giving a more realistic figure of the likely number of deaths, which is now at least 58.


However, media speculation continues to suggest that the final figure of men, women and children who died is likely to be higher – making it the worst civilian fire disaster in the United Kingdom since the Second World War.

              Prime Minister’s statement in full


Earlier today I met with victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the volunteers and community leaders who are working so hard to help people rebuild their lives.

I wanted to listen to their concerns and reassure them personally that Government is there for them – and that everything possible will be done to help them through the hugely difficult days, weeks, months and years to come.

The response of the emergency services, NHS and the community has been heroic.

But, frankly, the support on the ground for families who needed help or basic information in the initial hours after this appalling disaster was not good enough.

I have heard the concerns and I have ordered immediate action across the board to help victims’ relatives and the survivors.

People lost everything in the fire and were left in only the clothes they were wearing.

I can confirm that a £5million emergency fund that I announced yesterday is now being distributed on the ground so people can buy clothes, food and other essentials.  If more funding is required, it will be provided.

Residents rightly want to know when new housing will be provided. I have fixed a deadline of three weeks for everybody affected to be found a home nearby. I have today requested daily progress reports.

There have been huge frustrations that people do not know who to talk to, that they can’t get through on the council hotlines.

I have ordered that more staff be deployed across the area, wearing high visibility clothing, so they can easily be found, dispense advice and ensure the right support is provided.  Phone lines will have more staff.

Victims have concerns their voice will not be heard, that their many questions about this tragedy will not be answered.

That is why I ordered a Public Inquiry, with the costs for providing victims with legal representation met by Government.

The inquiry will be open and transparent. Government and ministers will cooperate fully. I anticipate the name of the judge will be announced within the next few days and that an open meeting will be held with residents to help shape the terms of reference.

It has been decided today that the public inquiry will report back to me personally. As Prime Minister, I will be responsible for implementing its findings.

Understandably, those living in similar high rise blocks to Grenfell Tower also want answers.

I have ordered councils to complete urgent safety checks on all these buildings. If any further action is required, it will be taken.

After something this traumatic, many people will be in need of not just financial support, but also counselling. NHS London will provide that support.

I can also announce that NHS London will provide specialist long-term bereavement support for the families who have lost loved ones, and immediate psychological support is being provided by Cruise and Red Cross.

If other issues become apparent – if the victims need more help and support – I will make sure it is forthcoming.

The fire at Grenfell Tower was an unimaginable tragedy for the community, and for our country. My Government will do whatever it takes to help those affected, get justice and keep our people safe.


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