Grenfell report calls for 'culture change' on fire safety


A United Kingdom government review ordered after the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 71 people in London in June previous year has found that Britain's buildings regulation system is broken, but has stopped short of recommending an outright ban on combustible cladding.

Dame Judith Hackitt found that indifference and ignorance had led a "race to the bottom" in building safety practices with cost prioritised over safety.

Wandsworth council has 99 blocks of 10 storeys or more - more than any borough in London - and following the Grenfell fire last June set aside £30 million of Council resources to pay for vital safety measures such as replacing cladding and installing sprinklers.

It led to high rises in Sunderland being looked at, and work is now underway at the towers on Dame Dorothy Street having their cladding replaced this week.

According to BBC News, Dame Judith's appointment to lead the review had been met with some criticism due to her former role as director of the Energy Saving Trust.

Dame Judith said her report will call for greater clarity and tighter policing of guidance already in place, which says cladding must be made of material of limited combustibility. Interim safety measures are in place in all affected buildings and latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show that over 65% (104 out of 158) of social housing buildings with unsafe cladding are now going through the process of remediation.

Local authorities and housing associations, which are non-profit making, will be given access to the money to help with reasonable costs of removing and replacing unsafe cladding from buildings which they own to ensure people are safe in their homes.

He added: "We are consulting on significantly restricting or banning the use of desk-top studies to assess cladding systems". It has therefore announced additional funding for the social sector.

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"Councils and housing associations must remove unsafe cladding quickly, but paying for these works must not undermine their ability to do important maintenance and fix work", Theresa May told the House of Commons.

"But we do not want vital safety work to put at risk our high priority house-building programmes".

"There is insufficient focus on delivering the best quality building possible, in order to ensure that residents are safe, and feel safe".

But the government said Dame Judith was "an independent and authoritative voice".

The government has also admitted that many survivors of the Grenfell fire will still be living in emergency accommodation such as hotels 12 months after the disaster.

"It was always going to be a challenge to respond to an unprecedented tragedy on this scale", Brokenshire said.

"People need to be able to sleep safely at night in their homes".

The public inquiry into the Grenfell fire starts on Monday with two weeks of tributes to the deceased by their friends and family.