House of Commons Library

Grenfell Tower Fire: Background

Published Tuesday, May 15, 2018

This briefing sets out the Government response to the fire at Grenfell Tower which broke out on 14 June 2017, including details of the building safety programme, public inquiry and recovery taskforce.

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On 14 June 2017 a fire broke out at Grenfell Tower, a 24 storey residential housing block in North Kensington, London. The Metropolitan Police have stated that 71 people died in the fire.

The tower, which provided social housing, contained 129 flats. The block is owned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea but management of the block was the responsibility of the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation.

The fire appeared to spread rapidly up the building and concerns have been raised over recent renovations and fire safety measures in place.

This briefing sets out the Government response to the fire, including details of the building safety programme, public inquiry and recovery taskforce. It includes relevant press articles from immediately after the fire and from recent months but does not aim to provide comprehensive coverage from the last year. Parliamentary statements and debates on the issue are also included.

A public inquiry, reporting to the Prime Minister, was announced on 15 June 2017. A debate on an e-petition on the inquiry was held in Westminster Hall on 14 May 2018. The petition called for additional panel members to be added to the inquiry, and on 11 May 2018 the Government announced that an additional two panel members would be added for the second phase of the Inquiry. Further detail is given in a written statement. A Library briefing on Inquests and public inquiries provides further detail on how they work.

The Government created a Grenfell Tower Recovery Taskforce which last reported in March 2018. In addition it announced a review of building regulations and fire safety on 28 July 2017; an interim report was published in December 2017 and the final report is expected in the coming months.

Government information on the fire is available online.

An Opposition day debate on Grenfell Tower is due to take place on 16 May 2018 and the motion covers rehousing, remedial work on tower blocks and reform of building regulations.

A further Library briefing covers issues around paying for work on leasehold properties: Leasehold high-rise flats: who pays for fire safety work?, March 2018

On rehousing, The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has adopted an Exceptional Rehousing Policy for Grenfell Tower residents (revised November 2017). A further, wider rehousing policy, has been adopted to cover certain residents in the surrounding area (February 2018). Government updates on rehousing have featured in statements (see sections 5 and 7 of the paper).

Other Library briefings contain detail on some of the relevant aspects not covered here, including a POSTnote providing a background on fire safety in construction products:

 

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8305

Authors: Edward Potton; Mark Sandford; Alison Pratt

Topics: Emergencies and disaster management, Emergency services, Housing standards

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