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01 August 2023
As part of its Grenfell response, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) has budgeted or spent £469 million, and the government has set aside £291 million for ownership and responsibility of the Grenfell Tower site, which will likely be turned into a memorial.
While the manufacturing company, Arconic, which supplied the aluminium composite (ACM) cladding panels, spent £35 million on attorneys and advisors and "recorded a liability of £47 million in its accounts for settling civil claims," the ongoing public inquiry and police investigation have so far cost $231 million.
Elsewhere, main contractor Rydon is thought to have set aside around £27 million for civil claims, and the London Fire Brigade’s legal bills have reached £14.5 million. The director of the Inquest charity, Deborah Coles, told The Guardian: “The human cost of preventable tragedies is always paramount, but this staggering sum shows how failing to enact change when it is called for has a significant cost to the public purse because death is expensive. “In 2013, a coroner looking into deaths after a fatal fire at Lakanal House called for fire safety reforms, but they didn’t happen. That could have not only saved lives but also contributed more than £1bn to the public purse.”
900 bereaved survivors and residents (BSRs) received a payout of £150 million in April 2023. The £1.17 billion figure is significantly higher than that amount. It is also nearly 4,000 times more expensive than the initial savings achieved in 2014 by using a less expensive substitute for non-combustible zinc cladding.
In an effort to reduce costs for the renovation project at the time, the "cheapest contractor's bid" was chosen, saving the council and landlord about £700,000. Nabil Choucair, who lost six family members in the 2017 fire, said: "This disaster wouldn't have happened if they had spent a fraction of this money before the fire and listened to us families. They attempted to cut costs at the expense of our families, and now we are suffering as a result.
At the end of the day, we are all responsible for their errors. Consider what this money could have done to prevent deaths, Coles continued. We could have built safe housing, removed hazardous cladding, and implemented proper escape protocols for people with disabilities, which were rejected by the Home Office in part due to cost. 180 police officers and investigators are working through 11,000 witness statements and countless documents as part of the police investigation, which is estimated to have cost around £60 million.
The Inquiry has already cost about £170 million, and the second and final reports won't be completed until 2024, according to expectations. The general public should not anticipate criminal prosecutions until after their release. RBKC has set aside approximately £50 million for the "delivery of services to the bereaved, survivors, and the immediate community" as of right now. "Our continuing priority is to support the bereaved, survivors, and the local community," said Elizabeth Campbell, the council's leader. "From providing the help and support people need to the recent resolution of the claims process—an important juncture for those affected. We are committed to learning from the Grenfell tragedy and doing right by the bereaved and survivors.”
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30 November 2023