Two years after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, figures show that the public sector has invested significantly in fire-safety measures. But is it enough?
This month marks the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire in West London. It was a tragedy that united people on many levels, including a will to bring about change.
Public awareness was raised on vital issues that had previously been sidelined – such as underinvestment, urban deprivation and unsafe housing conditions. The dangers of flammable cladding and the risks of inadequate fire-safety standards were issues seized on by the public and media, leading to pressure on the government to take steps to ensure that there will never again be a disaster of this scale.
Two years on, it’s clear the Grenfell tragedy has been a significant impetus for change. Over the past 24 months, Tussell has seen a surge in contracts awarded for fire-safety procurement, particularly by Local Government and NHS buyers. This was featured in an article published by the Evening Standard on the second anniversary of the tragedy.
First steps on a long journey
The Grenfell fire was the result of numerous failings and served to starkly highlight long-term, public-sector neglect of fire safety. Recent increased investment shows that different levels of government are addressing these issues but a great deal remains to be done.
“The Grenfell tragedy was a wake-up call for the Government to act on fire safety,” says Tussell founder Gus Tugendhat. “The figures show that a lot has been done since then – especially in Local Government. But the number of vulnerable buildings still to be secured shows that fire safety is still a pressing issue."
Transparency in government procurement is crucial when it comes to evaluating the public-sector response to a tragedy such as Grenfell. Open data means government procurement of fire-safety measures is now a matter of public record. The hope is that availability of information will direct public pressure at different levels of government to address long-standing problems and avert such disasters in the future.
Key findings since Grenfell
- 465 contracts, totalling £172 million, have been awarded by the public sector for fire safety precautions. This is a 45 per cent increase in value compared to the two years prior to the fire.
- 200+ of these contracts, worth £58 million, were awarded by local government – more than double the number that were awarded in the two years prior to the disaster.
- 14 of the contracts were awarded to international fire protection firm Harmony Fire.
- £7.7 million has been spent on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry by the Cabinet Office since the beginning of 2018 – including more than £3 million on legal services and £1 million on media and advertising.
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