Labour has called on the Chancellor to set aside £1 billion in the Budget to fund the retrofitting of sprinklers in all council and housing association tower blocks, starting with blocks that are 30m (ten storeys) or higher.
The Government has so far refused to provide funding for councils to retrofit sprinklers following the Grenfell Tower Fire. Two coroners’ reports in 2013 into the high rise fires at Lakanal House and Shirley Towers recommended that sprinklers be fitted into social housing blocks.
Many councils and housing associations lack the funds to retrofit sprinklers, with the Conservatives’ having cut funding for local government by 40 per cent since 2010. A number of local authorities have said their requests for funding from the Government to retrofit sprinklers have been turned down or ignored, including Nottingham City Council, Salford Council and Conservative-controlled Westminster Council.
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, said:
“Five months on from the Grenfell Tower Fire, still only 2 per cent of tower blocks have sprinklers and councils claim they have been denied funding for these vital measures.
“The Government is failing to learn the lessons from this tragedy. I urge the Chancellor to use the Budget to urgently provide the funds needed to retrofit sprinklers, ensuring people in thousands of tower blocks across our country are living in safety and with peace of mind.
“The Grenfell Tower fire was an entirely avoidable human disaster that must not be repeated.”
John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary said:
“The Conservatives are turning a blind eye to dangerous conditions in tower blocks.
“The Government say they have encouraged councils to retrofit sprinklers, after having slashed local government funding by 40 per cent since 2010, depriving councils of the funds that they need to make life saving changes.
“Sprinklers save lives. Fire safety updates in Parliament, including fitting sprinkler systems, is likely to cost over £100 million. If the Chancellor can find the funds for MPs, he must find them for social housing tenants too.”
Matt Rodda, Labour MP for Reading East, said:
“Thousands of families living in blocks across the country have been living in fear since Grenfell. I hope the Government will now listen to Labour’s call for it to take action on retrofitting sprinklers”