Grenfell Tower: Government to pay £200m for safer cladding

The government is to cover the £200m bill of replacing Grenfell Tower-type cladding on about 150 private blocks in England with a safer alternative.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire had previously said the bill should be footed by the owners, not the taxpayer. But he acknowledged the long wait for remedial work to be carried out had caused anxiety and strain for people living in those high rises.

He said owners had been trying to offload the costs on to leaseholders.

A public inquiry into the fire heard evidence to support the theory that the highly combustible material in the cladding was the primary cause of the fire’s spread.

Latest government figures show that 166 private residential buildings out of the 176 identified with aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding – the same type used on Grenfell Tower – are yet to start works on removing and replacing it.

Mr Brokenshire admitted he had changed his mind on demanding freeholders pay up for safety work. He said some building owners had tried to pass on the costs to residents by threatening them with bills running to thousands of pounds.

“What has been striking to me over recent weeks is just the time it is taking and my concern over the leaseholders themselves – that anxiety, that stress, that strain, and seeing that we are getting on and making these buildings safe.”