Council leader urges Chancellor to provide financial support to leaseholders over fire safety measures
Published: Wednesday 22nd November 17
Council leader Ravi Govindia has written to the Chancellor Philip Hammond in the wake of today’s Budget to request specific financial aid for Wandsworth leaseholders to help them pay their share of the cost of installing sprinklers in their homes following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
The council has already announced it will be fitting sprinklers in 99 high rise blocks in the borough that are ten storeys or above to improve fire safety in around 6,400 homes.
The decision, which is based on advice from the London Fire Brigade, means the tallest blocks in Wandsworth will comply with building safety standards that have applied to all new-build high rise blocks since 2007.
The council has already identified and set aside £30m to cover the cost, but while council tenants will not need to pay a penny towards the overall bill, leaseholders who have bought their homes would be required to pay a modest share of the cost.
In his Budget speech in the House of Commons earlier today the Chancellor said: “This tragedy should never have happened and we must ensure that nothing like it ever happens again.”
He called on all social housing landlords to carry out safety works “as soon as possible” and added: “As I have said before, we will not let financial constraints get in the way of essential safety work.”
In his letter to Mr Hammond Cllr Govindia states: “I am writing to you following today’s budget and your very welcome call to all local authorities and housing associations to identify and carry out safety improvements in high-rise buildings as quickly as possible.
“This is exactly what Wandsworth Council has been doing. The safety of all our tenants and leaseholders is of paramount importance and we have been getting on with the job, moving quickly to identify and set aside £30 million of council resources to pay for vital safety measures such as replacing cladding and installing sprinklers. We have also set up fire watch patrols while these improvements are carried out, adding an extra layer of safety for our tenants.
“Wandsworth has 99 blocks of 10 storeys or more, more than any borough in London, and I am proud that we are leading the way in ensuring that our residents get the highest levels of protection, especially in the wake of the terrible tragedy and loss of life that occurred at Grenfell Tower.
“We want to be absolutely certain that every one of our residents who lives in a council block is safe and we will do everything to now make sure that nothing like Grenfell ever happens here.
“This funding we have provided covers the costs of protecting all tenanted properties but not leasehold properties. Wandsworth, having pioneered right to buy, has over 1,358 leaseholders who would have to contribute towards these safety measures and not all will be able to afford the cost.
“You have said that you will not allow financial constraints to get in the way of any essential fire safety work, and we would like to request Government support to cover the costs for leaseholders and help ease the financial burden for them.”