High Rise Cladding Update

Just three tower blocks out of almost 300 with the same cladding as Grenfell Tower have had panels taken down and replaced.

Seven months after the fire a report published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government revealed “three buildings have finished the installation of replacement cladding”.

Only a further six had begun to replace the cladding, made of aluminium composite material.

The report said it had identified 299 tower blocks that had failed safety tests because they had the same cladding system that “therefore present fire hazards”.

Sajid Javid, the Housing Secretary, told MPs that 312 buildings had been tested for fire safety and that all but 13 had failed.

The fire in the 24-storey tower block in west London in June is now subject to a public inquiry. The cladding, installed as part of a multi-million pound refurbishment, has been blamed for the rapid spread of the blaze which began with a fire in a fridge-freezer on the fourth floor.

Local authorities have been seeking extra funding from central Government to pay for the work in taking down and replacing the flammable cladding. Camden council, which has stripped cladding from five tower blocks, has estimated the cost of replacing it at £50 million and will take until the summer of 2019 to complete.

The official report identified six councils with 11 or more tower blocks with a ‘cladding system’ that failed safety tests. Four are in London and the other two in the north west.

Out of the 299 high rise residential blocks with the dangerous cladding, 168 are managed by either local councils or housing associations. Of those 160 “are unlikely to meet current Building regulations guidance” states the report, issued monthly as part of the Government’s response to Grenfell.

The Housing Ministry declined to say why just three buildings had been re-clad in the wake of the fire but insisted that the number one priority was the safety of tower block residents.

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