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Minority of social housing towers reclad after Grenfell disaster


Only three social housing buildings that failed large-scale fire tests in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster have been reclad. According to data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, only three of the 160 buildings classed as dangerous have been reclad with safer materials.

Figures also showed that 26 buildings have had all their Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding removed, and of these, nine have started to install replacement materials.

A total of 312 residential and public buildings in England over 18m high were found to have or once had the cladding installed,

Some 299 were said to be “unlikely to meet current buildings regulation guidance”, and therefore present fire hazards.

This means that more than half of the buildings deemed to be a potential danger are in the social housing sector, managed either by local authorities or housing associations.

Sixty-three local authority areas in England contain at least one residential or public building that is over 18m high and has confirmed ACM cladding systems that are not likely to meet current building regulation guidance. Of these, 41 contain one or more social housing buildings.

Shadow housing secretary John Healy responded by stating that the government has been “off the pace” at every stage in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

He said the fact that only three tower blocks with dangerous cladding have been replaced “should shame ministers”, adding that the government’s response is “simply not good enough”.

However, housing secretary Sajid Javid has insisted the government is “ready to provide whatever financial flexibilities are necessary to any local authority to make sure all essential fire safety work is done”.

Furthermore, he said the government’s building safety programme is “making good progress” in identifying potentially unsafe” ACM cladding in tower blocks.

He stressed that “through that and further action, we will make buildings much safer”, adding that the government has accepted all the interim recommendations made in Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review into fire safety regulations in buildings.

The review’s interim report, which was published last month, described the current system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise buildings as inadequate.

In addition, it stated that the regulatory system for safely designing, constructing and managing buildings is “not fit for purpose”.

Phase two of the independent review has already commenced, with a summit involving the government and representatives from the building industry taking place last week.

Dame Judith, who will publish her final report in spring 2018, praised the “positive tone” at the summit and the “recognition of the common challenge” faced by government and the housing sector.

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