Survey shows 70% of tower block residents say their buildings still have combustible cladding on
The survey comes almost three years on from the Grenfell Tower fire (PA)
A new survey into those living in tower blocks reveals 70% of them still have on combustible cladding almost three years on from the Grenfell Tower disaster.
A new report from a cross-party group of MPs highlights “significant ongoing fire safety issues in multi-occupancy buildings across the country leaving residents with facing bills of thousands of pounds”.
The Housing, Communities and Local Government committee asked residents what issues they faced, with one writing back: “I have highly flammable insulation, missing fire breaks, missing compartmentation, poorly fitted fire protection to the structural steel and poorly fitted fire doors.
“I fear for my life on a daily basis.”
Others demanded the Government go further than a £1billion Building Safety Fund announced in the 2020 Spring Budget.
One resident said: “The funding will need to cover all buildings, not just those above 18 metres, and will likely need to exceed £1billion, as it should be expanded to cover all sorts of fire safety defects.”
Another added: “It is great the Government has announced the fund, but it is taxpayers' money eventually and developers that broke the law should he held accountable financially.”
The survey, which had 1,352 responses, also revealed that some residents continue to face bills of thousands of pounds for remedial or safety measures, while others pay for round the clock fire watches.
The Government had pledged to get all combustible cladding removed from towers after 72 people died in the Grenfell fire in June 2017.
The committee chair, Labour’s Clive Betts, said: “What we have heard is not encouraging and it appears that much more will need to be done if people are to feel safe in their homes, and no longer face the stress of large bills to resolve issues not of their making.”
In response the shadow housing minister, Mike Amesbury, said: "The Government needs to take the findings and views expressed in this report extremely seriously and prioritise this vital remediation work, which has gone from a snail's pace to a complete standstill, putting lives at risk.
"This is causing significant emotional and financial distress to residents, people who are living every day in the shadow of a potential disaster waiting to happen."
And Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: "The government, big business and wealthy building owners have had three years since Grenfell to fix the dangerous homes still trapping thousands of residents.
“The accounts in this report should make them feel utterly ashamed.”
He added: "The fire safety fund announced in the Budget still abandons thousands of residents trapped in dangerous buildings below 18 metres and in buildings with other fire safety defects.
“There is also still no clarity on who is responsible for remediation work. This limbo is a perfect excuse for government and those who own the buildings to continue passing the buck between one another whilst failing to address the concerns of residents.”
A Ministry for Housing, Community and Local Government spokesperson said: “Residents’ safety remains our priority and we are bringing forward the biggest change in building safety in a generation backed by our unprecedented £1.6billion fund for removing unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings.
“Our new legislation will provide stronger, systematic oversight to ensure the safety of residents and puts tougher duties on those responsible for high-rise buildings.
“We have also been clear that in order to ensure the safety of residents during the coronavirus pandemic, work to remove these unsafe materials must continue where it can be done safely and in line with public health guidance.”
On Wednesday the leaders from 25 councils joined a number of regional mayors in pledging to ensure vital building safety work continues during the coronavirus pandemic.
Building Safety Minister Lord Greenhalgh said: “We are bringing about the biggest change in building safety in a generation backed by our unprecedented £1billion fund for removing unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings, in addition to the £600 million already made available.
“In order to ensure the safety of residents, building safety work must resume where it can be done safely and in line with public health guidance.
“The agreement reached with local leaders from across the country is an important step that demonstrates a shared commitment to ensuring this vital work continues during the pandemic.”
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