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Grenfell: UK government overrides safety review

Grenfell: UK government overrides safety review
By Catherine Hardy with Reuters, UK Government
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The announcement comes hours after a review into the Grenfell Tower fire stopped short of recommending an outright ban - despite complaints from campaigners.


The UK government is considering a ban on inflammable cladding on social housing.

"Having listened carefully to concerns, the government will consult on banning the use of combustible materials in cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings," Housing Minister James Brokenshire MP said in a statement.

The announcement comes hours after a review into the Grenfell Tower fire stopped short of recommending an outright ban - despite complaints from campaigners.

However, the far-reaching government review, ordered after last summer's catastrophic blaze found that the country's buildings regulation system is broken.

What does this mean, in practical terms?

Experts are recommending a complete overhaul of the building regulations system. The aim is to catch problems at the design or construction stage, before buildings are commissioned for people to live in.

This would also mean those responsible would be held accountable and will face much tougher sanctions if they do not respect the regulations.

What happened at Grenfell?

The 24-storey social housing block was engulfed in flames after fire broke out late one night last June. 71 people lost their lives.

The fire is thought to have spread rapidly due to aluminium cladding on the building which had a flammable plastic core.

Calls for a ban

Survivors of the fire, along with professional bodies, have been calling for a ban on the type of cladding used on Grenfell Tower.

Civil engineer Judith Hackitt led the review. She says an outright ban would not help and that the problem is people are cutting corners and ignoring the regulations.

Existing regulations, she added, state that the only type of cladding that could be used on high-rise buildings is of limited combustibility or has to pass a full safety test.

There is no existing cladding system containing combustible materials that would pass any safety tests.

What does this mean for the UK's social housing?

A lot. There are far-reaching implications not only for the construction industry but also for social housing landlords and private landlords.

That's because dozens of other high-rise buildings have been found to have cladding that could pose a fire safety risk.


On Wednesday, the government promised to spend 400 million pounds on replacing unsafe cladding on public high-rise blocks.

This lessens the financial burden on local authorities.

Is this the only investigation into what happened at Grenfell?

No. The causes of the Grenfell Tower fire are the subject of an inquiry which is due to begin hearing evidence next Monday.

A separate police investigation is underway which could result in criminal charges.


What they are saying

"There is something seriously wrong with the regulatory system, there are people out there taking shortcuts, cutting costs and not taking responsibility for building buildings that are safe for people to live in," - Judith Hackitt.

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