Kensington & Chelsea RBC will receive emergency funding under the Bellwin scheme after the disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower, communities secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed, while neighbouring councils have offered to house evacuees.
Bellwin compensates councils for the exceptional costs of – usually – natural disasters, where they spend more than 0.2% of their annual revenue budgets on emergency works. They can apply to have 100% of the eligible costs above that threshold reimbursed by the government.
Communities secretary Sajid Javid reinforced prime minister Theresa May’s commitment that the government “stands ready to help in anyway possible”.
He said: “We’re determined to stand squarely behind the affected communities. Funding through the Bellwin scheme will help councils support the community to get back on their feet.”
Housing minister Alok Sharma said the government would work with Kensington & Chelsea to “guarantee that every single family from Grenfell Tower will be rehoused in the local area”.
The council said it had accommodated 109 households in hotels in west London so far.
Hammersmith & Fulham LBC lies a few hundred metres from Grenfell Tower and the two are linked in the Triborough arrangement, which is in the process of being terminated. Despite that a Hammersmith & Fulham spokesman told LGC it had offered Kensington & Chelsea any assistance needed but “we have been told they have rehoused everyone”. He added that given the borough’s proximity “some will probably end up living here given we are so close”.
The other Triborough partner is neighbouring Westminster City Council, whose cabinet member for housing Rachael Robathan (Con) said: “We are offering all the support we can to our neighbouring borough to help those affected in any practical way we can. This includes Westminster staff working in the respite centres, offering accommodation for those who have lost their homes and access to our housing options service to help with rehousing.”
In addition to finding emergency accommodation for residents affected by the fire, Kensington & Chelsea said it was also providing financial assistance to help people “cover their immediate needs”.
“Our immediate priority is to accommodate the residents of Grenfell Tower, families with young children, the elderly and the vulnerable,” a statement said. ”We are still placing households and housing officers are continuing to work to provide assistance and support.”
So far, it has been confirmed 17 people have died but the Metropolitan Police “expect that total to rise”.