The government has admitted that around 300 private tower blocks in the UK have dangerous Grenfell-style cladding – twice as many as previously thought
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government revealed there were 297 blocks over 18m high wrapped in the unsafe materials, more than double the 138 it estimated previously.
It brings the total number of high-rises with combustible cladding to 470, with the number expected to rise since the cladding status of another 170 private residential buildings has yet to be confirmed.
Yesterday (28 June) housing secretary James Brokenshire announced a new task force to ensure the tower blocks are made safe ‘swiftly’.
But in a written statement to MPs, he admitted that more than a year since the Grenfell Tower fire, cladding has only been removed from 19 tower blocks across both sectors, with works only complete on four of the 297 private buildings.
In his statement, Brokenshire said local authorities had been ’working hard to identify affected buildings in their areas’ and had tested more than 6,000 buildings.
Brokenshire also announced £1 million for the launch of an expert inspection team to ‘ensure building owners take the necessary action’.
‘The safety of residents is my main priority,’ he said, ‘and fire and rescue services are working with building owners to ensure residents are safe now.
‘But I want to see swifter progress in removing unsafe cladding which is why I have announced further action to support councils as they work with owners of high-rise blocks.’
I want to see swifter progress in removing unsafe cladding
While the government has promised to fund the removal of cladding for social housing blocks, it has made no such commitment for buildings in private sector.
It is still unclear who will pay for cladding removal on private blocks, with some building owners passing the costs on to residents.
Brokenshire said: ‘I have been clear that leaseholders should be protected from unfair costs and we expect the industry to do the right thing. If they don’t, I will continue to explore other routes and I am not ruling anything out.’
Earlier this week, The housing, communities and local government select committee said it would be urgently raising safety concerns with the government after certification chief Claire Curtis-Thomas told the committee she was aware of at least 30 buildings that now did not comply with fire safety regulations after the cladding had been removed.