Fire safety measures in tower blocks since the Grenfell Tower tragedy have cost councils and housing associations at least £600 million, according to the BBC
This amount, the BBC added, is likely to be a ‘considerable underestimate’, with many public and private UK landlords still working out their budgets for safety works in the wake of the disaster.
The BBC also reports there have been arguments over who should pay for the measures. The government has said it will pay for ‘essential’ works, but a number of councils and housing association say it is not clear who is liable.
Manchester City Council has called for a ‘vital’ review into the enforcement powers of councils and the fire service, adding that there is a ‘lack of clarity’ within the current legislation concerning the Fire Safety Orders and Housing Acts.
According to the BBC, the overall cost of emergency assessments, fire wardens and other safety measures, is likely to be more than £1 billion.
The government is carrying out a review of the building regulations, including fire safety, but this is not due to be published until Spring 2018.
Southwark Council could spend up to £100 million on installing fire sprinklers in its tower blocks, and could spend further money on other safety measures, while housing association L&Q is reserving £50 million for emergency measures.
The Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force, formed after the Grenfell Tower fire, has calculated the cost of its safety measures at £100 million and rising. Salford has borrowed £25 million to cover emergency works.
Government tests showed that more than 70 tower blocks in Greater Manchester had unsafe cladding, but removal has stopped in a number of high-rise buildings because authorities do not know what to replace it with. This means the blocks have to be patrolled by fire wardens day and night to ensure the safety of residents.
In Salford, removal work of the cladding has been paused on one tower because of a dispute over who should pay.
Paul Dennett, chair of the Greater Manchester High Rise Task force and mayor of Salford, told the BBC: ‘I genuinely empathise with those residents, and it must be awful to be sitting in a block with cladding that doesn’t conform to building regulations.
’I totally appreciate the frustrations from residents and the anxieties there, but we are having a big fight with government over who is going to pay for all of this.’