Planning and Housing

13.06.18

Councils spend £100m on fire safety post-Grenfell – but many denied any government help

London councils have spent almost £100m on safety measures since the Grenfell Tower tragedy last year, new figures have revealed.

The spending was declared by 24 boroughs in response to Freedom of Information requests by the BBC, and has covered the cost of cladding removal, safety surveys, and ‘waking watches’ on buildings considered to be at risk of fire.

However, this work has meant that some councils have had to delay refurbishing their flats in order to pay for it.

Croydon Council has installed sprinklers in around 400 homes so far as part of a £10m programme in twenty-five 10-12 storey blocks, as well as an eight-storey sheltered block. But it expressed concerns that a lack of government funding has caused it to cut refurbishment work.

The BBC found that some local authorities have had funding requests rejected, with Enfield and Brent councils reporting that they have had applications for government funding to install sprinklers turned down.

Newham council, which has so far spent £20m since the tragedy, also revealed that it has not yet received any money from the government.

Camden Borough Council has spent £33m, while Kensington and Chelsea council reported an expenditure of £4.6m in addition to the £235m that it has spent in responding to the Grenfell disaster so far, which has reportedly exhausted its reserves.

According to Croydon council, it has requested a financial contribution from the government three times in order to limit the impact on council budgets, but ministers have not yet pledged any cash.

Cllr Alison Butler, deputy leader of Croydon Council and cabinet member for homes and gateway services, said: “In a week where we are all remembering the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, a lesson learnt must be that fire safety continues to be a top priority for everyone.

“That’s why Croydon Council decided to retrofit sprinklers in around 1,250 homes across the borough, and we are on schedule to complete this in a few months’ time.

“This £10m programme is very important, but it will hit our long-term finances unless we receive government help. I urge ministers to relax tight restrictions on councils’ housing budgets like the borrowing cap – this would boost not just Croydon but other councils with bigger fire safety bills.”

Last month, Theresa May pledged to fully fund the removal of cladding from tower blocks.

Top image: Victoria Jones PA Wire

 

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