Budget is a betrayal of Grenfell victims and the promises made to them
Andrew Dismore, a member of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, has castigated the Government for failing to honour pledges made in the aftermath of the Grenfell Fire in the budget. The Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden also said the Government’s continued austerity programme was making citizens less safe.
The Chancellor’s budget failed to provide extra funding for fire services, despite a request for extra funding from the London Fire Brigade. As part of her initial assessment after the Grenfell fire, London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton has identified a shortfall in what the Fire Brigade needs, including 3 extended height aerial ladders, 2 drones, 1200 extended duration breathing apparatus sets, and other specialised kit (which together will cost £6 million), as well as restoring the previous Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson’s cut of 27 Fire Safety Inspection Officers.
The London Fire Brigade is potentially facing a growing shortfall of £25.5m by 2021/22, which is of a similar magnitude to the cuts forced through by Boris Johnson, who closed 10 fire stations, and removed 14 fire engines and over 500 firefighter posts.
The government has also failed to provide funding to local authorities to cover the cost of retrofitting sprinklers in tower blocks, despite assurances from the Chancellor, who said in his budget speech that “If any local authority cannot access funding to pay for essential fire safety work, they should contact us immediately. As I have said before, we will not let financial constraints get in the way of essential safety work.”
Mr Dismore said:
‘I am appalled that the Government have failed to provide nationwide funding for sprinkler systems. The Chancellor is disingenuous when he says he will not let financial constraints get in the way of essential safety work and doesn’t provide the funds to do so. The impact of austerity on local councils means they do not have the money to retrofit, and the Government must foot the bill.
‘Mr Hammond has also failed to provide funding for the very necessary firefighting equipment, let alone reverse the cuts we already know are coming. Further cuts to the Fire Brigade on such a scale cannot be contemplated without grave risks to Londoners and their homes.’