Mayors demand Government funding for fire safety work at high-rise buildings
Immediate Government funding is needed to carry out urgent fire safety work and protect hard-pressed residents in high-rise buildings, the mayors of Greater Manchester and Salford said.
Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, has written to Housing Secretary Sajid Javid to call for action to help local authorities, housing providers and leaseholders who he says face significant increases in service charges to cover the cost of fire safety work in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
He said: "This is an issue of increasing concern and one which the Government must take urgent action to resolve.
"Government has already failed to provide local authorities and social landlords with additional funds to carry out fire safety works and now hard-pressed residents are faced with increases in service charge bills.
"While the safety of residents living in affected buildings is rightly our priority, it is clear to me that Greater Manchester residents should not be faced with this financial burden, which is putting many at risk of hardship with flats which are in effect now worth nothing."
Salford mayor Paul Dennett said: "I believe the Government has yet to take full responsibility for this serious national issue.
"While we have taken swift action to reassure thousands of local residents living in high-rise accommodation across the city region, we cannot ignore the impacts of Government austerity and cuts to local authority budgets and the lack of additional funding and resources from central government to address this issue of public safety.
"Local authorities and housing providers are already faced with significant and unanticipated costs to address fire safety concerns, and this crisis continues to unfold.
"Local people living in private accommodation, many of whom are first-time buyers, are now faced with significant hikes in service charges to ensure their homes are safe.
"The Government must act now and demonstrate that they are committed to the safety of high rise residents."
The Greater Manchester High Rise Taskforce was set up following Grenfell and inspections of every residential high-rise building by the region's fire service have taken place to ensure they comply with fire regulations.
The task force submitted to Dame Judith Hackitt's independent review of building regulations and fire safety that the current regulation system was not fit for purpose and needed to be overhauled.