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Saturday, 29 July 2017

Funding and Fire Safety

Brent Council is currently rushing through £10 million of spend on "fire safety" without knowing what it is going to be spent on.  A report was brought before the Cabinet on 24 July without the normal notice period of three/four months on the pretext that the whole thing is of the utmost urgency.  This recommends a programme to specify the works.

One would have thought specifying the work that needs to be done should precede spending the money, but the Council has already approved the spend at full Council.  That report says that the £10 million is equivalent to all the fire safety spend for Brent Council's dwindling housing stock over the past five years.  If it is really the case that that amount needs to be spent now, there must be a serious backlog that has been allowed to build up.  If so, councillors should be asking why such a backlog has built up and whether people have been put at risk. 

The chances of ever recovering this money from central government are negligible because the government has a default that Council's should rely on their own resources.  The DCLG web site states"The government’s expectation is that, as landlords, local authorities and housing associations will fund measures designed to make a building fire safe, and will draw on their own resources to do so."
Brent's decision to spend the money has effectively undermined any effort to lobby central government.

That means the money will come from the tenants either in higher rents, or via cut back in investment.  Really something that should not have been rushed through as a panic measure.  More detail on how local authority housing finance works can be found on the Red Brick Blog

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