Labour investigation reveals only 4% of London council blocks have sprinklers as Government ignores funding requests following Grenfell
A Labour Party investigation into fire safety in tall tower blocks has found that, 18 months after the Grenfell Tower fire, just 4% of London’s high rise council housing blocks have sprinklers installed.
Theresa May promised to “do whatever it takes to… keep our people safe” but the research compiled by Shadow Housing Minister Sarah Jones MP found not a single council request for support has been accepted by the Government.
Today Labour issued renewed calls for a Government Fire Safety Fund as the investigation revealed over 800 high rise council blocks across the capital do not have sprinklers installed. A succession of fire experts including the National Fire Chiefs Council, London Fire Brigade Commissioner, and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service have called for the retrofitting of sprinklers in tall blocks.
Councils across London, which have seen budgets cut by £4billion the Conservatives since 2010, have been denied funding for sprinklers and other fire safety measures, with the Government stating they do not believe the work is essential. Other councils have been put off applying for funding by the Government’s hard-line approach.
Sarah Jones MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, said:
“Councils and social housing tenants have been betrayed by this Government who promised to do whatever it took after Grenfell to make tower blocks safe, and has since backtracked.
“It’s simply contradictory for Ministers to say that sprinklers aren’t essential in older buildings while requiring them for new buildings. It creates a two-tier system which disproportionately impacts social housing tenants. Why should certain people be entitled to safer housing than others?
“Sprinklers are just one part of the fire safety mix, but they are proven to work. That’s why Labour is calling for a Government Fire Safety Fund to help councils with sprinklers and other important fire safety work.”
John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, said:
“Conservative Ministers have been off the pace at every stage in their response to the Grenfell Tower fire almost 18 months ago. Grenfell was a national tragedy and it demands a national response from Government to make sure it can never happen again.
“Sprinklers save lives. Ministers must now set aside the funding to install sprinkler systems in all council and housing association tower blocks.”