MPs sitting on the Housing and Communities select committee have given Ministers a short list of actions they should take immediately in the wake of the Hackitt Review into building regulations and fire safety, to improve safety of the public.
The influential cross-party group of MPs have given the Government two months to respond to their recommendations, which are:
- Combustible cladding should be banned on existing high-rise residential buildings – not just new ones (and from all tower blocks including hospitals and student accommodation);
- Sprinklers need to be retrofitted to all high-rise residential buildings, where structurally feasible;
- Conflicts of interest in the construction industry – such as companies arranging their own inspections – need to be eliminated; and
- The Government should introduce a low-interest loans scheme to help remove combustible cladding from private buildings and ensure costs are not passed on to leaseholders.
The committee heard from a variety of experts and interested parties, including Dame Judith Hackitt and survivors from the Grenfell Tower tragedy. In moving testimony, Natasha Elcock from Grenfell United told the MPs: “It’s quite simple: it should be banned… no one should go through what we have gone through—absolutely not—but also no one should go to sleep at night knowing they have got combustible cladding wrapped round their building… It should be banned, and it should be banned now. We shouldn’t wait.” Edward Daffarn, also from Grenfell United, warned that, “Grenfell 2 is in the post unless you act, and quickly”. The committee said that while the Hackitt Review focused on high-risk residential buildings of 10-storeys or more, many of their recommendations could and should be applied to a wider range of buildings and to the construction industry as a whole. They added that a ban on the use of combustible cladding should also apply to non-residential buildings where there is a particular and significant risk to life, such as residential homes, hospitals, student accommodation and hotels.
By Patrick Mooney, editor