Tory minister lied over council appeals for fire safety funding

Croydon is among half a dozen local authorities who have caught a Tory minister out in a lie over government help – or the lack of it – for installing sprinklers in council-managed residential blocks to improve their fire safety following the Grenfell Tower tragedy last month.

Sajid Javid: deaf to appeals for improved fire safety

Croydon announced that it would retro-fit sprinklers in its taller residential blocks within a fortnight of the fire at Grenfell Tower in north Kensington. At least 80 people lost their lives and hundreds more suffered injuries and lost their homes in the blaze, which took place on June 14.

Croydon Council leaders and the borough’s two Labour MPs have since made repeated calls to the Government for funding to assist with its programme of works, which is expected to begin in October.

“The sprinklers will go into individual flats or communal areas of the council’s 25 tallest blocks at 10, 11 or 12 storeys, plus sprinklers will also be installed for residents of an eight-storey sheltered accommodation block in Addiscombe,” the council said.

The work is estimated to cost £10million.

In a House of Commons debate on July 12, Sarah Jones, the Croydon Central MP making her maiden speech, repeated the local council’s call for central government to make a significant contribution to the cost of those works.

Jones told the House, “I am proud that Labour’s Croydon Council was the first council to agree to retro-fitting all our tower blocks with sprinklers.

“I call on the Government to clarify whether they fund this, and all the other changes we need to reverse the shocking cuts to local government.

“We cannot afford not to do this.”

Yet the following week, Sajid Javed, the Conservative Government’s communities minister, told the Commons that he had had no requests for fire safety funding from any local authorities following the Grenfell disaster.

Sarah Jones: Javed’s ignored her plea for fire safety funds

“To date, as far as I am aware, not a single local authority or housing association has approached me or my department to ask for any assistance. If they did, of course we would take that very seriously,” Javed said in a statement to the House.

Lying to Parliament is taken extremely seriously under centuries’ old House of Commons rules.

Lying to the nation over a matter as solemn as the lives of dozens of people, including many young children, is worse. Much worse.

Those weasel words in Javed’s statement “as far as I am aware” were probably a deliberate get-out clause, as the government minister will maintain that he does not read Inside Croydon.

But can he say, also, that neither he nor his senior civil servants in his department read Hansard? Or the correspondence that they receive from local authorities?

The trade website Inside Housing has obtained a copy of a letter from Labour-run Brent Council in north London, dated July 13, with an appeal for cash towards fire safety improvements similar to the appeal made by Croydon.

“The council resolved to request the government to provide the direct financial support to meet the costs incurred. This letter acts as our official request,” Brent’s formal letter states.

Inside Housing lists Southampton, Southwark, Birmingham and Portsmouth as councils which, like Croydon and Brent, are known to have contacted Javid’s department ahead of his statement.

The Labour Party has described the communities secretary’s remarks as “misleading statements”.

Which, of itself, is a bit misleading, too.

Javid lied, to Parliament and the nation.

If the Tories are dissembling so blatantly within a month of the Grenfell fire, imagine what other tricks might be tried by the government and Whitehall over the duration of the subsequent inquiry.

  • Inside Croydon is Croydon’s only independent news source, still based in the heart of the borough. In April-May 2017, we averaged 32,000 page views every week
  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or a local event to publicise, please email us with full details at


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Croydon Council, Housing, London Fire Brigade, Sarah Jones MP and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Tory minister lied over council appeals for fire safety funding

  1. Peter Bell says:

    Your article sounds surprised. Well I am surprised that you are surprised. This is the least talented govt in many years, many of the ministers are just not up to the job. (I mean Johnson as Forn Sec. and Gove back in the govt, do us a favour) You have pointed this out time & time again. We (well I) agree. You have mentioned they lie to save their sorry skins, so what is new, well how about bears defecate where trees may be found.

    • Our only surprise in this case is the blatant shamelessness of it all, the disrespect it shows for the victims of the Grenfell fire, and absolute contempt for local councils, fellow MPs and tower block residents.

      Actually, you’re right. Shouldn’t be surprised at all by a government whose predecessors behaved so shabbily over Hillsborough.

  2. shyn43 says:

    I must say that I would be more surprised to read about a government minister who actually tells the truth no matter what the consequences may be.
    I also believe that is important to remember that MP’s on whole are deluded and don’t like being accused of telling lies
    because even though their consciences remind them that they are replacing truth with lies
    they ignore it because they fear the consequences, i.e. losing their role in government and going down in history as another deceitful two faced and hypocritical MP.

  3. This may feel a bit off the wall, but Grenfell and Trump’s antics led me to explore what sort of politics might underlie 23 million Americans off healthcare and rubbish building regulations, virtually designed to be financially “interpretable”, here.
    I think the answer to both lies in
    a recent book that has made its way across the Atlantic bridge! It details the structures, lies and tactics used in the US to render Obama impotent and support the $850 mill of tax cuts repeal would allow.
    Similar lobbying City financed “think-tanks”, masquerading as politically neutral and independent, form part of the Establishment and old boy networks here, but are much less well documented. What Javid, in this case, but others on policing,child abuse,railways , deadly air pollution, etc, etc.are doing is providing the rhetorical smoke screen that hides undemocratic,essentially finance based decisions, pretending to be government policy or rationally based inquiries or “science”. Democratic structures are less broken than bought, in order to hide where the real powers lie.

  4. There is a new and frighteningly infectious syndrome about. It seems to be affecting all politicians who actually manage to get into a position of power or who are potentially in that position. It seems to have started, most recently, with Gordon Brown and was then quickly transferred to David Cameron and now on to Theresa May who is sharing it with most if not all of her Cabinet colleagues.

    The syndrome is called Delusions of Adequacy and is totally unrecognisable to the sufferer. If, by definition, you think you may have the DA syndrome then you don’t. Some of the symptoms of DA are a persistent habit of talking in meaningless cliches which get more banal as the illness progresses. Other symptoms include an inablitly to tell the truth, persistent mendacious opportunism, a erroneous belief that merely coming into office confers immediate knowledge and competence ( also known as the Johnson/Gove mutation) and many more. Finally, as before, all sufferers are mutually invisible. There is also an transAtlantic version which adds certain physical traits to the list of symptoms.

    This hints at the penetration of Alt-right habits into the May administration. Climate change denial funding is one of the clearest examples of the new American politics of the use of hidden donations in “Dae-rk Money”

    Al Gore: ‘The rich have subverted all reason’

    An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

    “In order to fix the climate crisis, we need to first fix the government crisis,” he says. “Big money has so much influence now.” And he says a phrase that is as dramatic as it is multilayered: “Our democracy has been hacked.” It’s something I hear him repeat – to the audience in the ballroom, in a room backstage, a few weeks later in London, and finally on the phone earlier this month.What do you mean by it exactly? “I mean that those with access to large amounts of money and raw power,” says Gore, “have been able to subvert all reason and fact in collective decision making. The Koch brothers are the largest funders of climate change denial. And ExxonMobil claims it has stopped, but it really hasn’t. It has given a quarter of a billion dollars in donations to climate denial groups. It’s clear they are trying to cripple our ability to respond to this existential threat.”

    One of Trump’s first acts after his inauguration was to remove all mentions of climate change from federal websites. More overlooked is that one of Theresa May’s first actions on becoming prime minister – within 24 hours of taking office – was to close the Department for Energy and Climate Change; subsequently donations from oil and gas companies to the Conservative party continued to roll in. And what is increasingly apparent is that the same think tanks that operate in the States are also at work in Britain, and climate change denial operates as a bridgehead: uniting the right and providing an entry route for other tenets of Alt-Right belief. And, it’s this network of power that Gore has had to try to understand, in order to find a way to combat it.

    Just wait till you are offered a “Great Deal” on the NHS with your chlorinated chicken.

Leave a Reply