The Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, in giving evidence to
the Communities & Local Government Committee on 11 October said
that the government will not provide direct funding to councils to
help pay for retro-fitting of sprinklers and other fire safety work
but may consider increased borrowing flexibilities.
The Secretary of State reported that 260 high rise buildings in
England had failed the "large scale panel tests" carried out by the
Building Research Establishment (BRE), of which 165 are social
housing blocks owned by local authorities or housing
Up to now, the government has repeatedly said they expect councils to fund 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.
In response to questions from the Select Committee, the
Secretary of State said that, where appropriate, councils who need
it may be allowed increased borrowing freedoms within the Housing
Revenue Account and in "one or two" cases, the power to switch
funding from the councils General Fund to pay for fire safety work
to high rise blocks, but reiterated that the government is not
planning to provide direct funding in the form of grant.
The Secretary of State reported that some 31 local authorities
had asked for assistance in paying for fire safety measures
following the Grenfell Tower fire and that the government is in
"detailed discussions" with six of those.
The Secretary of State also said that he expected to be in a
position to bring forward the Housing Green Paper "in the first
quarter of next year".
Watch the Secretary of State's evidence to the