Grenfell inquiry begins: The numbers that lay bare the funding crisis hampering high-rise improvements

The government has ordered councils to review and upgrade fire safety in social housing across England and Wales. After decades of neglect, however, the bill for remedying myriad shortcomings is astronomical and many councils are nearly technically insolvent. The public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire opens today.

It s the start of a very long process, with the interim report due to be published in Easter. The inquiry s remit encompasses the cause and spread of the fire, high-rise regulations, and the actions of the local authority, Kensington and Chelsea Council. Residents and victims will watch retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick give a 45-minute statement. The fire, which killed at least 80 people in June, has pushed the fire safety debate beyond the fire-safety sector and into the national media. Long frustrated with being stonewalled by government, suddenly leading figures in the industry were thrust in front of TV cameras. The debate focused on cladding initially but has widened to almost every aspect of fire safety. So horrendous was the Grenfell tragedy that people are finally taking fire safety seriously in a way that never happened after Lakanal. That central and local government are finally taking the issue seriously is no cause to celebrate it shouldn t have taken such loss of life to jolt people into action. And where there s a will there isn t always a way where money is involved as our infographic below shows.

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