Anger over ‘horrifying’ gradual tempo of presidency’s post-Grenfell motion – Incapacity Information Service
The government has failed to protect people with disabilities from the risk of fire in skyscrapers and other residential buildings almost four years after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, activists say.
Activists with disabilities and allies have issued an open statement with Home Secretary Priti Patel and Secretary for Housing, Community and Local Government Robert Jenrick calling for urgent and long overdue action.
Organizations such as Disability Rights UK, Claddag, a tenant disability action group, and the Grenfell Next of Kin group say the government failed to implement key recommendations made at the end of the first phase of the Grenfell Tower investigation in October 2019.
And they warn that disabled tenants fear losing their homes because of the high cost of removing dangerous cladding from residential buildings.
The fire in Grenfell Tower on June 14, 2017 killed 72 people, including many disabled residents who died after public authorities failed to plan how they would evacuate their homes in the event of a fire.
In October 2019, the investigation recommended that owners and managers of high-rise apartment buildings should be legally obliged to draw up evacuation plans, hand them over to the fire and rescue services and also keep them in an info box in the building.
She also recommended creating personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEPs) for all residents who may have difficulty evacuating themselves and keeping updated information about those residents and their PEEPS in the information box.
The new open position calls for these two measures to be implemented “urgently”.
However, it also states that these measures should be applied to all disabled residents on the upper floors of residential buildings, not just those in high-rise buildings, while such buildings must be equipped with equipment that enables disabled residents to evacuate independently and safely .
Sarah Rennie, Co-Founder of Claddag, said: “The pace at which the government is reviewing evacuation plans is appalling, especially with many disabled people living in buildings known to have been ravaged by fire.
“The message is clear: our lives are considered less valuable. “Stay in place” is not considered safe, so why is it okay with us? “
Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy, Disability Rights UK, said: “It has been over 18 months since the Grenfell Tower investigation recommended that building owners and management agents should have a legal obligation to create personal emergency evacuation plans for disabled residents who unable to evacuate themselves.
“It is totally unacceptable that thousands of disabled residents continue to live in fear of fire.”
The new statement also calls on the government to take action against the “hardship” suffered by disabled tenants who face the high costs of removing dangerous cladding from residential buildings and the costs of living in dangerous buildings.
Some disabled tenants are harassed by other residents because of the cost of equipment that would allow them to escape a fire, it is said.
Hadi said it was “unfair that disabled tenants fear losing their adapted homes or being asked to contribute to bills for remediation work that they cannot afford and are not responsible for”.
Other organizations that have signed the declaration include Disabled People Against Cuts, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Disability Sheffield, Inclusion London, Spinal Injuries Association and Sisters of Frida.
When asked to respond to the statement this week, a government spokesman said: “We are doing everything in our power to implement the recommendations of the first phase of the Grenfell inquiry in the most practical, proportionate and effective ways to ensure that a such tragedy can never happen again.
“We continue to work with disability groups to improve accessible living and develop improved guidelines for evacuation.
“Our £ 5 billion funding will protect the most risky buildings from prohibitive costs, but it does not relieve building owners of the responsibility to keep their buildings safe.”
The last detailed update of the government’s progress in implementing the research’s recommendations was released in April.
Ministers have announced that they will publish revised legal guidelines on the evacuation of disabled people and seek further opinions on PEEPs, although it is not yet clear when this will be the case.
The government said in February that it would fully fund “the cost of replacing unsafe cladding for all tenants in residential buildings over 18 meters (six stories) in England” while a new program would guarantee that no tenant is in a building between 11 and If you are 18 meters high, you would have to pay more than £ 50 a month to remove unsafe panels.
Image: Close-up of Grenfell Tower with banners in June 2018 (c) by Carcharoth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International
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