'We can't afford penny pinching on fire safety'

  • By JackGraves

Responding to a new report from the HCLG select committee on the cost of fixing fire safety defects in high-risk buildings, Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said:

“We can’t afford any penny pinching when it comes to fire safety.

“London boroughs are committed to making sure all our residents are safe in their homes. The government needs to work with us in meeting the massive costs of this crucial work.

“While we certainly welcome the government grants made available to councils so far, they only pay for the remediation of ACM cladding. The £1bn Building Safety Fund for remediation of non-ACM external wall systems largely excludes social landlords such as councils, which is hugely frustrating.

“Boroughs’ finances are already under immense pressure due to years of funding reductions and now the impact of Covid-19. It’s unsustainable to expect local government and the wider social housing sector to absorb the vast majority of these costs themselves, which would only scale back spending in other vital areas - like investment in desperately needed new housing.”

London Councils is also calling for:

  • Robust powers to enter, inspect, and enforce fire safety measures in leaseholder-owned properties in multi-occupancy residential buildings. Local authorities currently lack clear legal rights to access a leaseholder property in a social block to install fire safety improvements.
  • An extension to the scope of fire safety legislation. The government originally proposed measures only covering buildings over 18 metres or more than six storeys. This is an arbitrary figure and London Councils believes measures should apply to all multi-occupancy residential buildings above 11 metres and all buildings.