After the last seven years, another broken commitment from the Government shouldn’t come as a surprise, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. Having talked a good game on fire safety after Grenfell, the Department for Communities and Local Government are now clarifying their remarks on making funding available to improve building safety by saying that they expect local authorities and housing associations to undertake all such works out of their existing budgets.
It doesn’t matter that this problem began as regulatory failure on the national level. It doesn’t matter that since their last raid on council Housing Revenue Accounts two years ago we’ve had to work hard to find new ways to finance the affordable housing our towns need. It doesn’t matter that they made a public commitment to providing the funding when it seemed politically expedient to do so. Clearly now they’ve dealt with the negative press it’s time to get back to business as usual, as appalling as that is.
While backtracking seems to be going on all the time, it is local government which appears to bear the brunt of it, only just this week the Conservatives have backtracked on their free school breakfast pledge. I guess we’re an easy target, since when national decisions fail to materialise on the local level they hope people will simply blame local councils for the decisions taken in Whitehall. Fortunately, Crawley does not need additional funding for fire seafety, as our local stock doesn’t contain any of the safety flaws which have been highlighted post-Grenfell, but if things are ever going to improve for local government we need to stick together as a sector.