Grenfell Tower cladding scandal could cost councils millions after Government says no guarantee of extra funding.
‘There is no way we can afford to reclad our tower blocks. If we have to find that money, it will come from other projects’
But despite emergency fire safety checks being carried out nationwide under central government direction, councils will not be reimbursed for refurbishment work carried out.
A DCLG spokesperson said there was “no guarantee” of central government funding and that it would be “up to local authorities and housing associations to pay” for the work needed to ensure residents’ safety.
The spokesperson said financial support would be considered on a “case by case” basis for those that could not afford to carry out the necessary work, but did not clarify what the criteria for that consideration would be.
The announcement was met with severe criticism from some of the councils affected, with local authorities already having their budgets severely squeezed after years of austerity measures.
Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council, which is among the authorities to have discovered unsafe cladding, said “starved” councils would be forced to make cuts to other areas, including schooling, if central government did not help with costs.
“Local authorities have been starved of money over the past seven years. Our spending power has decreased,” she said. “There is no way we can afford to reclad our tower blocks. If we have to find that money, it will come from other projects, from investing in the fabric of our schools, capital investment in our infrastructure, the money has to come out of that. And it can’t really be done.
“I say absolutely, categorically that the Government should pay. If they can find £1bn to send to Northern Ireland, that gets more spending per capita than anywhere else, to buy 10 votes, then these people, living in high-rise towers, deserve better.” …