MPs say government's response to Grenfell is 'far too slow'

MPs have warned the government it runs the risk of another devastating tragedy if it does not 'pick up the pace' of its post-Grenfell safety reforms.

A report by the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Committee has said ministers must recognise 'the need for urgency' in reforming building and fire regulations.

The government was also still not doing enough to remove dangerous cladding from existing buildings, the report said, calling for it to 'fulfill its moral duty to ensure buildings are safe'.

The report warns that the £200 million that the government has set aside for stripping cladding from private buildings will not be sufficient. It adds that the government has also failed to fund the removal of other dangerous cladding materials currently found on hundreds of existing blocks of flats and high-risk buildings.

The committee also said it was frustrated that the government had only recently started consulting its proposals for the new building regulations regime. 

Clive Betts MP, chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government 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."

Jane Duncan, chair of the RIBA's expert advisory group on fire safety, agreed there had been an 'unacceptable delay' in reforming building and fire safety regulations since the tragedy in June 2017, which claimed the lives of 72 people. 

She said: "While the restrictions on combustible cladding and insulation materials on high-rise residential buildings represented some progress, MPs are right that much more concerted action is urgently needed." 

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: "Public safety is paramount and within days of the Grenfell Tower fire a comprehensive Building Safety Programme was out in place to ensure residents of high-rise properties are always kept safe. 

"We have committed up to £600 million 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."

This article first appeared in Architects' Journal

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