Councils given go-ahead to strip Grenfell Tower-style cladding
Local councils have been given the go-ahead to strip dangerous Grenfell Tower-style cladding from buildings where owners are refusing to take action.
Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire has announced the government will offer “full support” to councils in acting over unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding.
This includes providing financial support to local authorities to carry out emergency work to remove cladding, with councils then able to recover the costs from building owners.
In a written statement to parliament, Mr Brokenshire said he was “determined that building owners will not evade their responsibilities” in making sure all high-rise buildings with unsafe ACM cladding are made permanently safe.
The government has previously announced a ban on the use of combustible materials on the external walls of new buildings over 18 metres containing flats.
This also applies to hospitals, residential care homes, dormitories in boarding schools and student accommodation.
ACM cladding has been blamed for the rapid spread of fire at Grenfell Tower in west London on 14 June last year, which killed 72 people.
At the end of October, 289 private sector high-rise residential buildings were identified as having unsafe ACM cladding.
Work has begun to remove the cladding from 40 of those buildings, with plans in place for a further 98, but the status of the remaining buildings is unclear.
Commenting on the government measures announced on Thursday, Mr Brokenshire added: “Everyone has a right to feel safe in their homes and I have repeatedly made clear that building owners and developers must replace dangerous ACM cladding.
“And the costs must not be passed on to leaseholders. My message is clear – private building owners must pay for this work now or they should expect to pay more later.”
It came as Mr Brokenshire also admitted the rehousing of those affected by the Grenfell Tower disaster has been “too slow”; as he revealed 15 households are still living in hotels, almost 18 months after the fire.
Out of a total 203 households, 26 are also living in temporary accommodation, 12 in serviced apartments, and one staying with family and friends.
Some 194 households have accepted permanent homes, of which 149 have now moved in.
Mr Brokenshire said: “The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council continues its efforts to rehouse those who lost their homes in the fire, and improved progress has been made.
“Whilst I recognise the complexities involved, the overall pace of rehousing has been too slow, and there remains a small number of households in hotels as we approach 18 months after the fire.
“I expect the council to do everything possible to speed up the rehousing process and ensure that the remaining survivors are permanently rehoused as quickly as possible.”
The government will meet the ongoing costs of keeping the Grenfell site safe and secure having committed to taking over responsibility for the site earlier this year, Mr Brokenshire also announced.
A public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster is ongoing.