Action demanded on 300 ‘Grenfells’
The Government must ‘get a grip’ and ensure that safety is not compromised amid revelations that more than 300 high-rises in England have Grenfell-style cladding.
Housing charities demanded that the Government take action after new figures show that only seven social housing blocks have had the material removed.
Some 301 out of 314 buildings over 18m with Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding are unlikely to meet current building regulations guidance and pose fire hazards, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said.
More than half, 158, are social housing blocks, managed by either local authorities or housing associations.
The Government said “remediation work” is under way on 92 buildings, and has been completed on seven, the MHCLG said. This involves addressing any issues with the exterior cladding and fire safety systems.
However, Housing Justice berated the Government’s response and insisted that the delay must not have anything to do with cost-cutting, as safety should always be prioritised.
“The delay in resolving a critical safety concern is alarming and the Government needs to get a grip and take action to ensure safety is not compromised,” Jacob Quagliozzi, Director for England at Housing Justice, told The Universe.
“The fact that so few social housing blocks have had cladding removed is particularly disappointing. We particularly hope that issues around funding, and who foots the bill for remedial works is not to blame for these delays. The safety of people in their homes should not be secondary to cost.
“Similarly, we must ensure that tenants and leaseholders are not made to pay for the cost of correcting this shocking error and ensure that any costs incurred, such as increased heating costs when cladding is removed, are not passed on to tenants either,” he added.
Calls to ensure safety in high-rises comes after the infamous Grenfell Tower blaze, which caused the deaths of 72 people and over 70 injuries.
The fire broke out at the 24-story high-rise in north Kensington, west London, on 14th June 2017. The blaze came after a number of significant safety concerns had been raised by residents. Many questions were raised in the aftermath of the tragedy, including the role the exterior cladding of the building played in accelerating the growth of the fire.
According to a recent report by The Times, sources have claimed that three separate police investigations have yet to uncover any record of independent fire safety testing carried out on the cladding.
Previous reports also revealed that cost-cutting measures were behind the decision to install cheaper but more combustible exterior cladding.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, noted that the cladding has failed safety tests and is considered unsafe.
“It’s shocking that more than eight months on from the Grenfell fire only a tiny proportion of unsafe cladding has been replaced on homes across the country,” she said.
“The Government’s lack of leadership has driven delays and caused confusion and it must now step up and take responsibility for ensuring these homes are safe.
“We urge the Secretary of State to do this by providing total clarity on fire-safety and much clearer guidance on who should pay for and carry out these essential works,” she added.
John Healey, Labour’s shadow housing secretary, said the delays in action were “shameful”, and urged ministers to act now to “help fund essential fire safety work”.
In England, 63 local authority areas contain at least one residential building over 18 metres or public sector building with ACM cladding unlikely to meet current regulations. The MCHLG is not disclosing the locations of buildings “to protect public safety”.
The figures come amid several disputes around who should fund the removal of unsafe cladding from private blocks.
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Picture: Cladding is removed from Hanover tower block in Sheffield. (Danny Lawson/PA).Tags: cladding, Grenfell, Grenfell Tower, Housing, Housing Justice, shelter