Concerns have been raised about whether councils will be reimbursed for costs associated with carrying out works on buildings with similar cladding to that of Grenfell Tower.
Mark lloyd new site
The Local Government Association is seeking reassurances from the government about exactly what works councils will be funded for.
This comes as communities secretary Sajid Javid claimed “not a single local authority or housing association has approached me or my department to ask for any assistance”.
Speaking at a meeting of the LGA’s executive board yesterday, the association’s chief executive Mark Lloyd said: “Money features in every conversation I have with councils. Councils are getting on and doing what they need to do to reassure residents in their landlord role but they are also worried about the financial consequences.
“We are engaging with the government about what are exceptional costs and who should fund them, and what source should that funding be drawn from.”
Martin Tett (Con), LGA spokesman for housing, agreed there was “ambiguity” around the issue of councils being reimbursed, especially as LGA chair Lord Porter (Con) had been given certain assurances about the government covering costs in “exceptional” circumstances.
Speaking in parliament almost at the same time, Mr Javid said: “I have made it clear from the dispatch box a number of times that if any local authority or housing association has to take any action to make sure that its buildings are safe, we expect them to do that immediately. If they cannot afford it, they should approach us, and we will discuss how to make sure that they have the support that they need.”
The LGA is also calling for an immediate review of building regulations.
LGC previously reported how in October last year former housing minister Gavin Barwell, who has since been appointed as Theresa May’s new chief of staff, announced a review into Part B of the Building Regulations 2010 that cover fire safety in tall and wooden buildings. However, the review has yet to be launched. In March, a spokesperson for the DCLG said the review would be undertaken “in due course”.
Mr Lloyd said: “We have called for an urgent review of building regulations to make sure they are fit for purpose and understandable.
“That’s an important piece of work we need to call for because there may be an intention to wait for the results of the [public] inquiry before looking at building regulations.”
The LGA is also “making some suggestions” about who should sit on the independent recovery taskforce sent into Kensington & Chelsea RBC to help the council deal with the longer term recovery from the Grenfell Tower fire, said Mr Lloyd.
Mr Javid told MPs he was “finalising the taskforce membership” and added: “I hope to make an announcement soon.”
Gold Command, which includes intensive support of nine London borough councils, remains in place and Mr Javid said it “won’t hand over the reins until it’s clear that the council [Kensington & Chelsea] is ready and able to cope”.
At the executive board meeting Claire Kober (Lab), speaking in her capacity as chair of London Councils, said there were “a number of borough chief executives” in London who are “still spending much of their working week and weekends on this”.
“The scale of the task is not to be underestimated,” she said.
LGC reported earlier this week how the number of council and housing association high rise buildings identified as having cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower is less than half original estimates. It is now thought 46 council-owned towers across 16 local authorities have aluminium composite material cladding, while up to 194 towers across 50 housing associations are estimated to use the same cladding.