Barnet Labour: Government must pay for £10m fire safety works on council tower blocks

Barnet's Labour councillors are calling on the Government to meet the £10m cost of essential fire safety works in Barnet Council's social housing tower blocks.

The Housing Committee last night (26 June) agreed a £10m initial investment from Barnet's Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for fire safety works to ensure best practice fire safety is introduced in Barnet Homes managed tower blocks.

The works include removing and rectifying cladding on three tower blocks in Granville Road which recently failed fire safety tests despite complying with building regulations laid down by Government.

Labour councillors got agreement from the Committee that the Council would seek assurances that Government will pay for the works.

If the costs are not met by Government it will be paid for out of funds currently in Barnet's Housing Revenue Account - effectively falling on social housing tenants and leaseholders who pay rent and service charges into the HRA. Barnet could also be forced to revise its plans to build new social and affordable housing, and there may be less money available for maintenance of council homes in the future.

Labour believe the HRA borrowing cap - which restricts how much councils can invest in their housing stock - should be lifted.

Labour tabled around 30 questions on fire safety at the Committee meeting.

Labour's Housing Spokesperson and Deputy Leader, Cllr Ross Houston said: "The Government must pay for these essential fire safety works - not tenants and leaseholders.

"It is right that the council is allocating resources to these works so there is no delay in getting them done, but it cannot be right to foist the cost onto tenants and leaseholders.

"Residents are not responsible for a complete failure by Government to ensure building regulations are up to scratch.

"It is now clear that our national building regulations in this area are sub-standard, and need urgent review and update to take account of new construction methods.

"This clearly hasn't happened despite a promise from the Government after the Lakanal House fire in Southwark."

End.

Notes:

1. A copy of the Council's report on fire safety (Grenfell Tower response): http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=699&MId=9236&Ver=4

For more information contact: cllr.r.houston@barnet.gov.uk

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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