Improving building safety

More than two and a half years after 72 people lost their lives, the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire has started its second phase, looking at how the building came to be covered in flammable cladding during its refurbishment.

“Councils and fire and rescue services must be given a leading role in ensuring any new building safety system works”

Ahead of the inquiry restarting, Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick announced a package of measures to improve building safety.

These include a new regulator based in the Health and Safety Executive; support from government to help councils develop ways of enforcing remediation works where building owners have not set out clear plans; and announcing the Government’s intention to lower the building height at which sprinklers are required and combustible materials are banned.

The LGA has long argued that height is a crude determinant of fire risk, and that building safety reforms need to protect residents in all vulnerable buildings, such as a hospitals, residential schools and care homes – something ministers appear to have now accepted.

Councils and fire and rescue services must be given a leading role in ensuring any new building safety system works, and the enforcement powers and funding they need to ensure dangerous cladding systems are removed from buildings.

Lord Porter, my predecessor as LGA Chairman, and LGA officers and colleagues continue to work tirelessly on this issue, to help ensure that all our local residents are safe – and feel safe – in their own homes.

Meanwhile, as first was going to press, the LGA was making its submission to government on behalf of local authorities ahead of the Budget on 11 March.

We continue to make the case that every pound spent on local services is a good investment that saves taxpayers’ money and reduces demand for other public services.

Adult social care is a case in point, with better provision reducing pressure on the NHS. We are looking forward to seeing the Prime Minister’s plan for solving the social care crisis, which has been promised for this year.

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