The tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire has left a community in mourning, with police investigators saying that their starting point is 80 deaths resulting from the fire. Hundreds more people have been left bereaved, losing family or friends, but also bereft of their homes and belongings.
The survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire will be embarking on a process to rebuild their lives while the inquiry into the circumstances of the fire continues. Accommodation is an immediate concern but people must also have their daily needs met and this requires financial assistance as well.
The government has made available a £5 million Discretionary Fund for Grenfell Tower survivors. Every household is entitled to a guaranteed £5,500 minimum payment from the fund, delivered in the form of £500 cash and £5,000 through the Department of Work and Pensions.
Additional needs such as funeral costs or if your household has complex or additional needs may also be met through the discretionary fund.
The Evening Standard has also set up a fund for the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster, promising payments of £1,000 per family.
In addition all Grenfell households will receive a £10,000 ‘Fresh Start’ grant from the Kensington & Chelsea Foundation, administered by the Rugby Portobello Trust.
The residents of Hurstway Walk, Testerton Walk and Barandon Walk, the ‘finger’ developments near Grenfell Tower which were affected by the fire, will also have a package of financial support put in place. The support depends on whether the residents wish to return to the building and whether they are leaseholders or tenants. For those who wish to return a grant of £5,000 will be made available along with a redecoration service, professional cleaning. Additionally no charges will be made for heating and hot water, water rates, digital television or parking facilities for a 3 month period and there will be a rent and service charge free period until January 2018.
The government have also stated that any grant payments will not affect any assessment for welfare benefits or any assessment for legal aid, as a result residents are encouraged to seek legal advice as their grant funds will not affect eligibility to be assisted under legal aid.
Former residents of Grenfell Tower or Grenfell Walk should have been allocated a Key Worker who can assist them to access financial help. If you are a survivor and have not yet been allocated a Key Worker, contact the council on 020 7361 3013.
Youcan also attend the The Curve, 10 Bard Road W10 6TP to access assistance from the government and for getting help with obtaining documents
The Kensington & Chelsea Website also sets out how you can access financial help.
Financial support is available to survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster but also those living in the following nearby blocks:
- Barandon Walk
- Bramley House
- Hurstway Walk
- Testerton Walk
- Treadgold House
You can access this support by calling this number: 020 7745 646. The number is open from Monday to Sunday, 8:30am to 6pm.
When calling the number you will speak to an adviser who will ask you questions about you to confirm your identity. If payment is agreed then it will be in cash and your adviser will be able to explain how to collect it.
For additional non-financial assistance, for example assistance with driving licences, passports, mail and utilities some further information is available here.
If asked to sign any documents before accessing any sums of money from the fund, it is best to seek legal advice before doing so in case the document seeks to waive your legal right to future compensation. Residents should be clear when they are offered interim payments that this the funds are only accepted to support their immediate needs and not accepted in compensation for their experiences.
The Rugby Portobello Trust and National Zakat Foundation are the two organisations who are administering the Evening Standard fund assistance to residents and should be contacted directly if access to the fund is required.
Long Term Compensation
While these sources of funds address the immediate day-to-day concerns of residents while they piece together their lives after this tragedy, they are wholly inadequate to compensate them for the loss and anguish they have suffered. In the long term survivors of the fire will be expected to receive fair compensation for their suffering.
Many families will be asking to what extent the landlord, Kensington and Chelsea, is responsible for the fire which broke out and whether there was negligence involved. Landlords and others have responsibilities to ensure that homes and buildings are satisfactory. Although no amount of money can compensate for the death of a loved one following a fatal accident, compensation can make a difference to a bereaved family in helping them cope financially. Residents are best advised to seek independent legal advice to protect and assert their rights.