307 high-rises still have dangerous cladding

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Government will miss its deadline for removing dangerous combustible cladding from high-rise buildings, it has been revealed on the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire.

A total of 307 buildings are yet to have unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding removed, of which 167 buildings have not yet begun remediation works, the National Audit Office (NAO) said in its report.

Only 149 of the total 456 high-rise buildings, which fit the criteria of 18 metres and over, have been fully remediated.

ACM panels fitted onto Grenfell Tower were the main reason why flames were able to spread so quickly, and why 72 people perished on 14 June 2017 .

The NAO forecasts that it will be half-way into 2022 before all works are completed. The date far exceeds the government’s expectation set out in July 2019, that “other than in exceptional circumstances, building owners should complete remediation… by June 2020.”

ACM panels fitted onto Grenfell Tower were the main reason why flames were able to spread so quickly, claiming the loss of 72 lives.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, who chaired the first phase of the inquiry, found that the cladding, “acted as a source of fuel”. He said it was essential that it is removed “as quickly as possible.”

There has been varying progress. Some 66.7 per cent of student accommodation blocks and almost 50 per cent of social housing buildings have completed works, compared with 13.5 per cent of private sector residential buildings.

Coronavirus has also put up to 60 per cent of remediation projects on pause.

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said the government had made “some progress”: “However, the pace of progress has lagged behind its own expectations, particularly in the private residential sector. It has a long way to go to make all high-rise buildings safe for residents.

“Going forward, it is important that the department successfully manages the administrative challenges of funding building owners to carry out remediation work, particularly given its intention to commit a further £1 billion in full by the end of March 2021.”


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