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Thursday, October 19, 2017

UK Government abandons promise to social housing tenants

We were all emotional after the terrible tragedy that killed so many people living and staying in Grenfell Tower in London. Our first thought was with the families and then we started to think how we could prevent such a terrible fire happening again.

That was when the UK Government together with the three National Governments and every local council started to identify high risk blocks of flats, carried out tests and started to plan to replace unsafe cladding and install sprinklers and other measures where appropriate.

Ministers promised every assistance to keep tenants safe. We are now learning the limits of that assistance and how in some cases the Government is making the judgement that they must continue to take risks with people's lives.

As the Independent reports, Theresa May has confirmed there will be no Government cash to fit sprinklers in tower blocks, triggering accusations she has broken a promise made after the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

She has told MPs that it is “up to the council to make decisions”, despite the multi-million pound bills that many town halls face and which they will have difficulties finding. Nottingham, Croydon and Wandsworth have all had multi-million pound requests turned, even after being advised to carry out works by their local fire brigades.

The government are in fact falling back on two classic civil servant-style responses, redefining what is essential and what work is additional, and pushing responsibility to where it legally lies, the landlord, despite saying they would assist previously.

I am aware that many Conservative politicians believe that sprinklers are a 'nice extra', however in these high rise blocks, where escape routes can be easily blocked and advice is to stay put in the event of a fire, they are essential. That view is backed up by expert opinion, so why is the UK government ignoring it and going back on previous promises?
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