30th June 2020
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to 'scythe through red tape' as part of a new faster house building initiative dubbed 'Project Speed'. Whilst new homes are much needed, it is essential that the governments' ambitions include addressing the issues faced by many thousands of people up and down the country who live in substandard and dangerous housing.
Following the Grenfell tragedy, the government solemnly promised to remove all unsafe cladding from UK tower blocks. More than three years later, that hasn't happened. Instead, the full scale of structural and fire safety failings has been further unveiled. Numerous wooden cladding and balcony fires in newer built blocks have called into question the safety of modern building materials. Most of the UK's Large Panel System tower blocks have been found to be in breach of building regulations for resistance to collapse. Leaseholders are financially trapped in blocks of flats covered in other types of flammable material such as HPL cladding, unable to sell and suffering mental health crises.
The government must prioritise ensuring that the country's existing housing stock is fit for human habitation and that public money does not line the pockets of big business, or repeat past mistakes of building at speed without concern for risk and the safety of residents and our communities.
We are pushing for a worthwhile outcome from this disaster. We call on the government to instead focus on 'Project Safety' to cast aside substandard, overcrowded and unsafe housing alongside the Covid-19 virus.