Government Grenfell Taskforce raises concerns as PM appoints Independent Adviser

Nick Hurd is appointed as Independent Adviser to the Prime Minister on Grenfell, as the government’s Taskforce releases its report on the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Grenfell Tower green banner with a heart

The Independent Grenfell Recovery Taskforce has published its final report, as Nick Hurd takes up the role of Independent Adviser for Boris Johnson.

The Taskforce was set up by then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire after the Grenfell Tower fire.

The report, which is the Taskforce’s final report before dissolution, says although it is “pleased to see progress”, it is also not completely confident in the future for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC).

The letter says: “We are pleased to have seen progress against all of our eight recommendations. In addition, many of the workstreams set out in the RBKC Grenfell Delivery Strategy have progressed.

“However, we remain concerned about the pace of change; the culture across the council; and the quality of the relationship with the bereaved and survivors and the wider affected community.

“Consequently, we remain unable to give you unequivocal assurance that RBKC is effectively delivering a recovery for the bereaved and survivors and the wider community in north Kensington.

“We are mindful in this report that phase 2 of the Grenfell Public Inquiry has recently started in January 2020. This is a testing time for the bereaved and survivors, the wider community and the council itself. Inevitably relationships are strained.

“In our view, it becomes even more important that the council makes sure that it has the capacity and capability to continue to deliver recovery.”

Further in the report, the Taskforce expresses some regret at the removal of the Grenfell Scrutiny committee in the council, saying: “We consider it was premature to remove the specific Grenfell Scrutiny committee and embed scrutiny of Grenfell Recovery in other Scrutiny select committees.

“It would have been better to make sure the Public Assemblies were well established before changing the Grenfell Scrutiny arrangements.”

In the Taskforce’s assessment, it says: “We still have concerns over the pace of delivery and inconsistency in the demonstration of cultural change across the council. The recommencement of the Public Inquiry early in 2020 brings new and added pressure.

“Although we are now beginning to see many of our recommendations being acted upon, in many areas it remains early days.

“We are yet to be convinced that the changes we are beginning to see are sufficiently embedded to have long-term traction throughout the whole council.

“We continue to hear community voices that tell us that they do not see sufficient change from RBKC, and they remain concerned that the council will regress to a pre-tragedy ‘business as usual’ state.”

However, despite these remaining challenges, the government is now confident that RBKC can continue to improve without further support from the Taskforce, and the Taskforce will stand down on 31st March.

To make sure the views of those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire continue to be heard across government, former Minister for Grenfell Victims Nick Hurd has been appointed as Independent Adviser to the Prime Minister on Grenfell.

His role will include advising the Prime Minister, other ministers, and public bodies with responsibility for Grenfell-related issues, and representing the views of Grenfell communities at the heart of government.

The Grenfell Ministerial Recovery Group will continue to allow the government to oversee the council’s progress and meet its ongoing commitment to supporting the Grenfell community.

Secretary of State for Communities Robert Jenrick said: “I am determined that everyone affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy should continue receiving the support they need and deserve.

“I welcome the appointment of Nick Hurd, who will bring a wealth of knowledge from his former role. I know he will be a champion for the community and ensure their view is heard across government.”

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