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Government releases £200M to replace Grenfell-style cladding

Grenfell tower fire (wider view)

The UK Government has committed a further £200M to remove and replace unsafe cladding from 166 privately-owned high rise buildings.

The £200M fund will be used to pay for the replacement of unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding on high-rise private residential properties where building owners have failed to do so.

Building owners will be able to register for the fund by early July and will have three months to access the new fund, according to the government.

Following the Grenfell Tower fire, the government identified 176 private high-rise residential buildings with unsafe ACM cladding. However, according to the most recent data compiled by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, just 10 of these buildings have so far had work completed to replace the cladding.

According to the government, latest figures show that 166 private buildings are yet to start works on removing and replacing ACM cladding, compared to 23 in the social sector.

More broadly, remedial work to 345 buildings with cladding similar to the system used on the ill-fated Grenfell tower is yet to start. The structures affected include 112 social housing and seven publicly-owned health service buildings, as well as 31 hotels and 29 student accommodation buildings.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “It is of paramount importance that everybody is able to feel and be safe in their homes. That is why we asked building owners in the private sector to take action and make sure appropriate safety measures were in place.

“And we’ve seen a number of private building owners doing the right thing and taking responsibility, but unfortunately too many are continuing to pass on the costs of removal and replacement to leaseholders.”

Building owners and developers who have already fully funded the remediation of buildings are Pemberstone, Aberdeen Asset Management, Barratt Developments, Fraser Properties, Legal & General, Mace and Peabody.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire added: “Although temporary measures are in place to ensure people living in these buildings are safe, too many owners are treating this as a permanent fix. Others are trying to pass on the costs to residents by threatening them with bills running to thousands of pounds.

“While some building owners have been swift to act, and I thank them for doing the right thing, I am now calling time on the delay tactics of others. If these reckless building owners won’t act, the government will.”

The cladding used at Grenfell Tower was never tested, did not comply with fire regulations and was incorrectly installed, according to experts.

A report by Arup leader of fire safety engineering Barbara Lane concluded that “multiple catastrophic fire-spread routes” were created during the cladding construction at Grenfell.

Meanwhile, the government has reaffirmed its vow in December last year to implement all recommendations set out in Dame Judith Hackitt’s review into building regulations and fire safety following the Grenfell tower disaster. Housing minister James Brokenshire confirmed that the government would be taking “forward all of the recommendations” set out in the Hackitt review.

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