Government announces billions to fix cladding on high-rises

The number of high rise apartment blocks wrapped in combustible Grenfell tower-style cladding totals around 470 (‘Grenfell Tower-Style Cladding Identified in 470 High-Rise Blocks’). In the fourth year since the fire government action has stepped up to remove the dangerous cladding.

However, flammable cladding is not the only fire safety issue surrounding residential buildings. It’s time for the government to review all residential buildings, implement tougher policies and allow more cash to flow for remedial works.

Last week Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, announced a £3.5bn fund to fix dangerous cladding on high-rise buildings in England, with the offer of loans to leaseholders to fix similar problems in shorter buildings (UK Government Faces Tory MPs Backlash over Fund to Fix Cladding | Society | The Guardian).

This does not go quite far enough and Conservative backbencher, Stephen McPartland, who has worked closely on efforts to secure funds for leaseholders thinks the scheme does not go far enough. Calling for Downing Street to take over the policy, saying the announced scheme did not apparently cover fire-related costs other than cladding, while the loan scheme appeared unworkable.

Nearly 40 conservative signatures have accumulated for an amendment to the government’s fire safety bill, which would bar freeholders from passing the costs of removing cladding or other fire safety work on to leaseholders.

Stephen McPartland is right to push for an amendment especially when it was made clear that anyone living with dangerous cladding on buildings between four and six storeys will not be covered by grants, but will be able to access a new system of long-term low-interest loans. This was because government experts had repeatedly determined risks were significantly lower in shorter properties, the housing secretary said. Jenrick then acknowledged that many homeowners had “found themselves caught in an absolutely invidious position” (UK Government Faces Tory MPs Backlash over Fund to Fix Cladding | Society | The Guardian).

Jenrick also announce a levy on developers to cover the cost of grants, which will be applied when they seek planning permission to build high-rise buildings. A separate tax will be introduced from next year on money made in UK residential property development to raise £2bn over a decade and help pay for cladding remediation (UK Government Faces Tory MPs Backlash over Fund to Fix Cladding | Society | The Guardian).

The opposition
Labour said the measures did not help fix fire safety problems not related to cladding that had emerged after the Grenfell Tower disaster, and that by offering loans rather than grants on shorter buildings it denied justice to thousands of people (UK Government Faces Tory MPs Backlash over Fund to Fix Cladding | Society | The Guardian).

This matters because many fire safety issues are not solely cladding related as the Grenfell Tower Fire proved. Issues such as fire doors not self-closing and not meeting the required specification for a fire door, fire extinguishers out of date and numerous emergency lighting issues (‘Fire Door Problems Endemic in Grenfell Tower, Survivors’ Testimonies Show’).

It could be argued that the government should go much further then this. In addition, passing the costs onto leaseholders in the form of loans will only exacerbate the problem.

Thangam Debbonaire, the shadow housing secretary, told the commons that “The government has betrayed their promise that leaseholders will not pay for the buildings safety crisis,” (UK Government Faces Tory MPs Backlash over Fund to Fix Cladding | Society | The Guardian).

‘Fire Door Problems Endemic in Grenfell Tower, Survivors’ Testimonies Show’. Inside Housing, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

‘Grenfell Tower-Style Cladding Identified in 470 High-Rise Blocks’. The Guardian, 28 June 2018,

‘How the Grenfell Tower Fire Led to a Homeowner Crisis, and What Today’s Announcement Means’. Inews.Co.Uk, 10 Feb. 2021,

UK Government Faces Tory MPs Backlash over Fund to Fix Cladding | Society | The Guardian. 10 Feb. 2021,

Covid 19: The generational housing divide

Amongst many of the financial issues Covid-19 has wrought in the short run, the social issues are no less damaging but are not quite as obvious.

A report by Lockdown living, finds there is a stark generational housing divide. The report finds that young people are more likely to be locked down in smaller, overcrowded homes with no access to gardens than older age groups (Hill, 2020).

While it may be no surprise to those aware of the situation younger people find themselves in, particularly with regards to housing, what is concerning is the scale and length of time for those affected. The report goes on to conclude, “both striking and worrying as we enter a reopening phase that will see many people continue to work from home, alongside the risks of further local or national lockdowns” (Hill, 2020).

The unintended consequences of local lockdowns or increased working from home have not been taken into account. Many of which could be quite serious as many policies devised by government over the course of the past few months, have been understandably rushed.

Race and Ethnicity

This is not just a case of generational housing inequality. Race and Ethnicity again feature heavily.

It comes as no surprise that the report found that ethnicity plays a major role in determining the quality of household living conditions.

Nearly 40% of under-16s from black and minority ethnic households have no obvious garden, compared with 17% of white children. Close to a quarter live in a poor-quality environment.

Ethnic minorities are more likely to be in living in poverty in the UK. Alex Beer, the welfare programme head at the Nuffield Foundation, said: “This report provides further evidence that Covid-19 is exacerbating many existing inequalities, with younger people and people from minority ethnic groups disproportionately affected.”

This deepening of inequalities comes at the end of a decade of austerity, numerous housing inequalities. It will not come as any surprise to see the deepest recession ever on record, hit disadvantaged and minorities harder still


Hill, A. (2020) ‘Covid-19 exposes stark generational housing divide, UK report says’, The Guardian, 3rd July [Online]. Available at (Accessed 14 July 2020).

Why is being housed by the state perceived as a personal failure? Part 1

Social housing debates are at centre of the political discourse right now, and they rightly should be following the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the ongoing UK housing crisis.

We need to ask ourselves collectively some very important questions. It is time to move away from the strong doses of individualism we’ve shot ourselves up with and start thinking together as a collective society.

No civilised country, can call itself civilised unless people have housing rights which includes having somewhere safe and secure to live, from the richest to the poorest.

I would like to turn attention in this blog post to the following. Listening to Leading Britain’s Conversation (LBC) earlier in the week, tackling the question of social housing. A caller rang in and stated “Why don’t people work to move out a council home. Why do people in this country think the state owes them everything? My parents came to this country in the 1960’s and they worked and they never relied on the state”.

This sort of viewpoint in regards to council housing is unfortunately far too common in the UK. It’s rather elementary to put your experiences, or someone else’s, as indicative to what everyone being housed by the state should do, or be doing. The world is extremely complex, no two people are the same, no two groups of people are the same, no two parts of the country are the same, the environment you grown up in is not going to be the same as another persons.

The thrust of this blog post though isn’t why some hold such views (as crazy as they are). The caller stated his parents came to the UK in 1960’s and have never relied on the state, that may well be the case but when we read behind this we see the statement holds value judgements. Not everyone is like necessarily like yourself. If you are not lucky enough to have come to the country in the 1960’s when jobs were more easy to come by, or are/were more reliant on the state in the sixties because you have less capital you fall into a category that this caller presumably has.

Statements such as these lead those living on a council estate to fear openly admitting that they do.

‘Social shame’ is present in UK society. This goes for all areas of state dependency, not just social housing.

Grenfell Tower Burning

The Grenfell Tower tragedy highlighted the many failings of UK society. Not just of local government, but by how people who live in social housing are viewed by those who do not or never have resided in social housing.

By this I am referring to both citizens and politicians. Those that have never lived in social housing tend to hold positions of power, over those who do.

This very imbalance is a danger to British democracy, at a local and national level.

The image of the blackened hull that is Grenfell Tower should wake us all up to the dangers of lack of empathy and understanding. It should also wake us up to the face that we need to think collectively in order to help others out. So we too may lead lives that are happy. The more people in our country that are happy and not living in terrible conditions the better it is for society collectively right?

We also need to focus on power, who has power. Why do they have it? How? We need to forever question what government is doing, and be critical. At both national and local level, here it seems in Kensington and Chelsea local government were/are able to do as they please without very little oversight from anyone with power. The residents were disempowered and nobody was listening. This HAS to change but can only be done by mobilisation of the people on mass. The Grenfell Silent March which begins at Kensington Town hall and ends at the Lancaster West Estate is one way of doing this, as well as remembering the 72 victims of the tragedy. Now with Brexit and many other issues on the central agenda it is critical that this does not fall off the political agenda. The people of North Kensington need our support not just for a brief moment, but a lifetime.

Only if the citizens of the UK mobilise can we rid ourselves of the class system that has plagued the UK for centuries, and finally tackle rising inequality. We cannot go on creating areas where there are shops implicitly stating to one section of society this is not intended for you and just (2 minute’s walk in North Kensington) short drive away there are shops targeting a different class of person. It is clear that this will take time, primarily as the upper classes/elites who actually most likely prefer the status quo are more than likely to be in positions of power.

To make matters worse the new leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council (appears she is not so new). Has NEVER set foot in Grenfell Tower or any other tower block at all. I wonder if you can guess which part of Kensington she is living in? 😕

There is a massive disconnect between those in power, and classes. Nowhere is this more poignant then in North Kensington, with similar cases up and down the country.

Clearly, as someone senior in the council she should have visited the tower, without question. This involves conversing with residents, and investigating the many complaints. If she had actually visited the tower in the many years in which residents were complaining, she would may herself have acted. Her position in my opinion is surely is also untenable.

A clear problem is representation, if someone is unable to take the time to step foot in any tower block in a borough they have a deputy leadership role in, how are they supposed to represent all the people in that borough? Especially if this said person is middle/upper class, visibly. Everyone needs to connect with the people they should be working on behalf of, and that means everyone a borough. Nobody in this council appears (or actually cares) about representation of the poor, traditional working classes or service class. I am aware by simply mentioning the class system in this way, I am partly responsible for upholding it.

And finally, Grenfell Tower has clearly changed how these country perceives social housing. Has it truly touched all corners of society? Probably not. For too long social housing tenants have been held in contempt by councils and housing associations. From my own personal experience of living in 1970’s tower block (featured image on the right) reporting issues to Enfield Council and them not being acted upon, often with that familiar response that KCTMO residents had, stating that nobody else has reported the issue and issues often taking long to resolve.

To conclude. Why is Social Housing considered a failure?

Being housed by the state is considered a failure by some in society because of the increasing lack of empathy, the overuse of value judgements, lack of care, lack of oversight by us collectively towards those less fortunate. The over focus on owning property and gaining wealth through property has led to a destruction of society as we know it. This over focus on purchasing property is partly fuelled by the fact that the rental market is poorly, regulated with poor securities.

We have allowed society UK society has become more individualistic, more about “keeping up with the Jones”. The idea that people live in council homes out of choice rather than need as the LBC caller suggests is another reason. It is clear not everyone is the same, and tarring everyone with the same brush is a problem that a majority of UK society appears to have.

Too little oversight at local government level has allowed for conflict of interest, corruption, or just general disinterest all of which seem to be rarely picked up in any official statistics (which is equally worrying!).

This is a tragedy that we are all responsible for. Lacklustre politicians and indifferent citizens. We are all responsible.

(In a few weeks in the top menu, I will add a link with videos of various events recorded post Grenfell for viewers. For those wishing to understand more about the problems residents faced in Grenfell Tower and the Lancaster West Estate the Grenfell Action Blog is a good place to start.)