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Grenfell: Corbyn calls for £1bn to retrofit sprinklers in towers

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on chancellor Philip Hammond to set aside up to £1bn to fit sprinklers in all council and housing association high-rise blocks.

In a speech in London, Mr Corbyn said only 2 per cent of tower blocks currently had sprinklers, with a number of local authorities reporting that requests for funds to install sprinkler systems had been denied.

The Labour leader said: “Of course we are all waiting for the result of the Grenfell Tower inquiry, but there is some action that we believe the government could and should take immediately.

“The retrofitting of sprinklers in all high-rise social housing is something that could make a vital difference to people’s safety.”

Mr Corbyn claimed that “the evidence is clear” on the safety benefits of sprinklers.

He continued: “Where sprinkler systems have already been fitted, injuries sustained from fires have been cut by approximately 80 per cent and deaths from fires have almost been eliminated entirely.

“It is the primary responsibility of any government to ensure the safety of its citizens and we believe it is therefore the responsibility of the prime minister and the chancellor to make this money available to local authorities and devolved administrations across the whole of the UK.”

Mr Corbyn’s call comes after a BBC investigation found that the same type of cladding used on the Grenfell Tower in west London has been installed in at least 52 other towers across London.

Polyethylene-based cladding, consisting of aluminium sheets with a polyethylene core, has been found on 24 council tower blocks, 23 housing association buildings and five privately owned high-rises, it was revealed.

It is the same type of cladding which, it has been suggested, may have contributed to the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed around 80 people.

Last month the government revealed that less than 10 per cent of high-rise social housing blocks fitted with cladding have been deemed as safe. 

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