Following the Grenfell Tower fire the Government has, up to now,
repeatedly said they expect councils to fund essential fire safety
works and to draw on their existing resources to do so and that any
councils with concerns about funding essential fire safety measures
should contact the Department for Communities & Local
Government (DCLG) to discuss their concerns.
Although the Government has previously hinted at the possibility of
relaxing Housing Revenue Account borrowing caps in exceptional
circumstances for those councils unable to fund such essential fire
safety works, Ministers have resisted calls for the Government to
grant fund such works.
letter to MPs on 25 October 2017 the Secretary of State Sajid
Javid reiterated this stance saying that the Government "expects
councils and housing associations to fund measures that they
determine to be essential to make a building safe having taken into
account any recommendations or requirements set by the Fire &
rescue Service and should draw on existing resources to do so" but
that if councils had concerns about the ability to fund such works
they should contact the Government.
The Secretary of State went on to say that at that stage 32
councils had expressed concerns about funding and that DCLG had
liaised more closely with 7 of those councils and 1 had been asked
to submit supporting evidence for consideration by the
As the full costs of essential fire safety works become clearer
there is concern that if Government insist that councils fund such
works through their existing resources this will be at significant
cost and will have a detrimental effect on councils wider Housing
Investment Programmes and the delivery of their Decent Homes
programmes and other essential works to the rest of their housing
stock as well as any planned new build programme.
The series of fire safety tests by the Building Research
Establishment following the Grenfell Tower fire showed that the
buildings that have so far failed these tests are owned by a range
of different owners (public & private) across the country and
not just local authorities and that this would seem to point to a
systemic failure of the system of building regulation.
Dame Judith Hackett's interim report into the Review of Building
Regulations and Fire Safety published on 18 December makes it
clear that "…the whole system of regulation, covering what is
written down and the way in which it is enacted in practice is not
fit for purpose…"
ARCH is of the view that in such circumstances the Government
has a shared responsibility for the failings that have led to the
need for councils and other landlords to carry out these essential
fire safety works and therefore should assist councils in meeting
the costs of such works through some form of grant funding.
ARCH is seeking to make the case to Government and as a first
step we are asking those ARCH member councils who have identified a
need to carry out essential fire safety works to high rise
buildings in their housing stock and/or have approached DCLG
regarding help with funding to contact ARCH Chief Executive John