Government announces consultation into Grenfell-style combustible cladding ban
The Government has announced a new consultation into banning the type of combustible cladding that was used on the Grenfell tower block.
The announcement comes hours after the Hackitt review was branded a “betrayal and a whitewash” for failing to recommend an outright ban on the flammable cladding that helped the Grenfell blaze spread so quickly.
Dame Judith Hackitt’s report instead called for new systems to manage building safety focussing on a new regulatory with strong inspection powers, and a culture change within the building industry.
Labour MP David Lammy responded to the report earlier this morning saying: “This review is a betrayal and a whitewash. It is unthinkable and unacceptable that so many people can die in a disaster like Grenfell and one year on flammable cladding has not been banned.”
Housing Secretary James Brokenshire announced the new consultation in a statement to MPs, saying “we all have a role to play.”
Part of the consultation will focus on the use of controversial desktop studies, where combustible materials can be quickly approved without undertaking a large-scale fire safety tests.
“Firstly, we are consulting on significantly restricting or banning the use of desktop studies to assess cladding systems. Inappropriate use of desktop studies is unacceptable, and I will not hesitate to ban them if the consultation… does not demonstrate they can be used safely," he said.
“Let me be clear, the cladding believed to be on Grenfell tower was unlawful under existing building regulations. It should not have been used. I will make sure there is no room for doubt over what materials can be used safely in cladding high-rise buildings.
“Having listened carefully to concerns, the Government will consult on banning the use of combustible materials in cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings. “
Mr Brokenshire said he had issued directions to local housing authorities to pay close attention to cladding issues while slamming private sector housing chiefs for passing costs onto leaseholders.
“I find it outrageous that some private sector landlords have been slow to cooperate with us on this vital work. I am calling on them to do the right thing. And if they don’t, I am not ruling anything out at this stage.”
“We must create a culture that truly puts people and their safety first. That inspires confidence, and yes, rebuilds public trust", he added.
Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey said that the report “read like an insider from industry urging reform without rocking the boat.”
He said: “Why no ban on combustible cladding and insulation? It really beggars belief that this report continues to give a green light to combustible materials on high-rise blocks. Don’t consult on it. Do it...”
“This is a missed opportunity to set clear cut new standards that ensure a disaster like Grenfell tower can never happen again.”
“Above all, this is a matter of a national response that measures up to the national tragedy of the Grenfell tower fire.”
Meanwhile Emma Dent Coad, the Labour MP for Kensington, where the tower block stands, said a ban was an "absolute, 100% no-brainer".
She told BBC's World at One: "This is not an abstract issue. It is impacting on people’s mental health all over the country, people are not able to sleep because they have cladding and they’re not sure whether it’s safe, they’ve got fire marshals outside their doors. They need reassurance now and the Government must act.”