Committee condemns ‘badly missed’ cladding remediation target

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The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has slammed the ‘badly missed’ target to make thousands of Grenfell-style cladding homes safe, as it urges the new 2021 deadline be met

Three years after the Grenfell Tower disaster, only 155 out of 455 high-rise buildings with Grenfell-style flammable cladding have had their cladding replaced with a safe alternative.

In a report, the Public Accounts Committee says it is “imperative” that the new 2021 deadline, for works on the remaining high-rise blocks, be met.

The committee says the government has no convincing plan for how it will meet that new deadline though, and even if it does there are a host of other serious shortcomings exposed by the Grenfell disaster that also need to be addressed.

The MHCLG has accepted that the British system of building safety regulation has been “not fit for purpose” for many years.

A lack of skills, capacity, and access to insurance is hampering efforts to improve or assure the structural safety of apartment blocks.

Cladding remediation costs

In March 2020 the MHCLG announced that a further £1bn would be made available to fund the replacement of other forms of dangerous cladding on high-rise buildings – but even by its own estimates, this will meet only around a third of the total costs, according to the report.

PAC says the government has no plans to support residents or social landlords to meet the costs of cladding remediation in buildings below 18 metres, of providing ‘waking watches’, or of fixing other serious defects brought to light by post-Grenfell inspections.

‘The government must step up’

Meg Hillier MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “The department set its own target to remove cladding and yet has failed to achieve even a third of the work it set out to deliver.

“Thousands of people have been condemned to lives of stress and fear in unsaleable homes with life-changing bills: for the works and for the fire-watch that is necessary to allow them to sleep at night until it is done.

“The government has repeatedly made what turn out to be pie-in-the-sky promises – and then failed to plan, resource, or deliver.

“The deadly legacy of a shoddy buildings regulation system has been devastating for the victims and survivors of Grenfell but is leaving a long tail of misery and uncertainty for those whose lives are in limbo.

“The government must step up and show that it will put a stop to the bickering over who is responsible, who’s going to pay for the remediation – and just put this right.”

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