Sheffield MP calls for cash for councils to fund fire safety work in tower blocks

Cladding being removed from a tower block in Sheffield
Cladding being removed from a tower block in Sheffield

A Sheffield MP has called for cash for councils to fund fire safety work in tower blocks.

Labour's Clive Betts said some councils may be forced to cancel or defer maintenance work in other properties to pay for essential fire safety work in tower blocks following the Grenfell Tower disaster in Kensington, London, earlier this year.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Betts said Communities Secretary Sajid Javid had 'ruled out' any Government help to fund the maintenance, and said: "Does he recognise that many councils may be in the position where they have to defer or cancel other essential maintenance work on other properties, putting the lives, the health and safety, of other residents at risk?

"Won't he reconsider this position and recognise that this is a national problem and Government ought to share responsibility at least with local councils to deal with it?"

Mr Javid replied: "I don't think, given that each council's situation is different. that I can give a general answer for all councils concerned."

He said he had set out a "full top-to-bottom review of social housing in this country' which he said would be an 'appropriate way to look at the more wider issues around social housing, including renovation'.

In the same debate, Rotherham MP and shadow housing minister, John Healey, accused the Government of failing to meet a series of promises made by Theresa May and ministers in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Asking an urgent question in the Commons, Mr Healey said to the Communities Secretary: "Can he confirm that 152 Grenfell households are still in hotels, despite the Prime Minister telling this House on 17 July 'I have fixed a deadline of three weeks for everybody affected to be found a new home'.

"Can he confirm the Government has tested the cladding on fewer than 300 high-rise blocks, despite the Prime Minister telling this House on 22 June 'we can test over 100 buildings a day'.

"And can he confirm he told the select committee last week there will be no Government funding for councils or housing associations for essential retro-fit fire safety work, despite him telling this House on 20 July we will, he said, 'make sure they have the support they need'.

"Grenfell survivors have a deep mistrust of those in power who failed to respect social housing residents for so long, and when ministers make pledges but fail to act, or fail to ensure others act, this simply fuels a wider lack of trust and confidence, and the buck stops at the top."

Mr Javid told MPs the number of households seeking rehousing having been affected by the fire had risen to 202, with larger households asking to be rehoused separately.

"As of this week, 112 households have accepted an offer of either temporary or permanent accommodation," he added.

"Of these, 58 have moved in, 44 into temporary accommodation and 14 into permanent accommodation."

The council has secured more than 200 local permanent properties and expects to have more than 300 available by Christmas, Mr Javid said.

On testing, Mr Javid said 169 high-rise social housing buildings in England featured some of the aluminium composite cladding, 161 of which were unlikely to meet current safety standards.

He added that 32 councils have expressed concern about funding for improvement works.

"We have liaised more closely with seven of these, and one of them has now submitted supporting evidence for consideration by my department," Mr Javid said.