Social landlords could be forced to cut back spend on repairs and new build as they scramble to fund fire safety works on tower blocks.
Councils and housing associations across the country are moving to tear down and replace cladding systems, put interim measures such as temporary fire wardens into effect, and some are installing sprinklers.
But with central government refusing to fund works, several have voiced concerns that new build, repairs and other housing services could take a hit.
Camden Council – which is removing cladding from four towers on the Chalcots Estate, where significant safety risks were identified – has said it may consider “re-prioritising” its repairs programme.
Newham Council will need to remove cladding from three towers in the borough, including Ferrier Point, and could have to pay £5m for interim measures in the meantime. A report to the council’s cabinet said the cost “may have implications for the delivery” of its Housing Capital Programme. Lambeth Council has raised similar concerns.
Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “Whatever flexibility we did have is now severely restricted. Taking £30m out of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) means we’ve now got less to spend on other things.”
Wandsworth Council has committed to installing sprinklers in all 100 of its tower blocks and is replacing cladding on two buildings at a total cost of £30m.
Oxford City Council, which is removing cladding from two tower blocks at an estimated cost of £1m, expects the work to cause an overspend in its HRA.
The warnings came as Inside Housing obtained a letter from Alok Sharma to Nottingham City Council saying government would not help pay to retrofit sprinklers in its blocks.
He said in the letter the works were “additional rather than essential”.
Among associations the picture is more mixed. Giant London-based landlord L&Q has set aside £50m to pay for fire safety works in its blocks. However, 15,000-home Plymouth Community Homes, which expects to replace cladding on three of its tower blocks for £13.5m, has said it is “seeking assurance from government” that funding will be provided.