Speed of government action ‘risks another Grenfell-scale tragedy’

18 Jul 19

Government’s response to the Grenfell Tower fire has been “far too slow” and could risk another tragedy, MPs have warned.

The housing, communities and local government committee has called on the government to fulfil its “moral duty” by increasing funding to remove all types of dangerous cladding.

A report from the committee released today warned that the £200m the government has set aside to fund the removal of Grenfell-style ACM cladding from private residential buildings “will not be sufficient”.

MPs also said it was wrong to only provide support for residents with a specific type of cladding (ACM) but not other types which are considered dangerous.

“The government cannot morally justify funding the replacement of one form of dangerous cladding, but not others,” the report said.

The committee expressed its frustration over the lack of an “effective regulatory system” over a year since the publication of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

The HCLG report said: “The pace of change set by the government in reforming the building and fire safety regulatory regime has been far too slow.”

Clive Betts, chair of the HCLG committee, said: “We are two years on from the Grenfell Tower disaster and the government is far behind where it should be in every aspect of its response.

“Much more progress should also have been made on developing a comprehensive building and fire safety framework.

“This is simply not good enough. It has been over two years since the fire at Grenfell Tower, and more than a year since the publication of the Final Report of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, and yet the government has only just published a consultation into its proposals for reform of the building safety regulatory system.”

The committee called on the government to pick up the pace of reform or risk another tragedy on the scale of Grenfell Tower. 

Shadow housing secretary John Healey said: “For two years, government action has been too slow and too weak.

“Ministers must now step in and set a hard deadline to replace all dangerous cladding, toughen sanctions against block owners that won’t do the work and fund the retrofit of sprinklers in all high-risk social housing blocks.”

An MHCLG spokesperson said: “Public safety is paramount and within days of the Grenfell Tower fire a comprehensive Building Safety Programme was put in place to ensure residents of high-rise properties are always kept safe.

“We have committed up to £600m to fund the removal and replacement of unsafe ACM cladding on high-rise social and private residential buildings.

“Ultimately building owners are responsible for the safety of their building and we expect them to carry out work quickly – anything less is unacceptable.”

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