Government ‘far too slow’ in Grenfell fire response

MPs have stressed that the government has been ‘far too slow’ in reforming the building and fire safety regime in the two years since the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has called on the government to recognise the need for urgency in removing dangerous cladding from existing buildings.

A new report from the committee said that the £200 million that the government set aside for the remediation of private sector residential buildings with ACM cladding will not be sufficient, claiming that ministers have also failed to provide funding for other forms of potentially dangerous cladding materials currently found on hundreds more existing residential and high-risk buildings.

Greater urgency is also needed to establish an effective regulatory system that ensures building safety in the long-term. The committee is frustrated that, over a year since the publication of the final report of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, the government has only recently started consulting on its proposals for the new regulatory regime.

MPs argue that the government must now set a realistic and short deadline for the removal of any form of dangerous cladding, supported by adequate funding and sanctions for building owners who fail to make their buildings safe within a reasonable timeframe. The government must also recognise its moral duty to ensure the removal of all forms of combustible cladding and allocate a sufficient level of dedicated funding to guarantee this.

Clive Betts, chair of the 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. Further delay is simply not acceptable. The government cannot morally justify funding the replacement of one form of dangerous cladding, but not others. It should immediately extend its fund to cover the removal and replacement of any form of combustible cladding – as defined by the government’s combustible cladding ban – from any high-rise or high-risk building.

“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 government must pick up the pace of reform, before it is too late.

“We would like to pay tribute to the victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, and thank them for giving evidence to our inquiry. We have a duty to learn the lessons of the failures that had such a devastating impact on so many lives. As of yet, the government has failed to do so.”

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