Most high-rise social housing blocks still without sprinklers

An investigation by the Labour Party has revealed that the vast majority of social housing tower blocks in England are still without life-saving sprinkler systems.

Ten years after the fatal Lakanal House fire, which took the lives of six people on the 3 July 2009, Labour has renewed its calls for a £1 billion Fire Safety Fund to finance vital safety work and retrofit sprinklers in high-rise social housing blocks.

Since 2007, sprinklers have been a legal requirement in all new high-rise blocks, but But for over two years since the Grenfell disaster, which left 72 people dead, ministers have refused to help fund retrofitting of sprinklers in social sector blocks – despite repeated pleas from cash-strapped councils wanting to install the devices.

Labour’s investigation has found that 95 per cent of local authority-owned tower blocks taller than 30 metres do not have sprinkler systems installed. Led by Shadow Housing Minister Sarah Jones, the investigation compiled compile information from 354 councils and Arm’s Length Management Organisations (ALMOs).

Jones said: “The Lakanal House fire showed the clear need for sprinklers in all tall housing blocks. Yet a decade on, nothing has changed. We know ministers ignored years of warnings prior to Grenfell, and two years after 72 people died they are still refusing to make blocks safe.

“It is simply a contradiction in terms for the government to suggest that sprinklers are essential in new buildings whilst ignoring calls for them in older buildings. This creates a two-tier system, hierarchy of harm where social housing tenants are disproportionately affected. Sprinklers save lives. That’s why Labour is calling for a Government Fire Safety Fund to fund councils fully with sprinklers and other essential fire safety work.”

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