Jenrick warns of ‘name and shame’ approach to cladding remediation

Commons hears Housing Secretary talk tough on action against inaction.

 

Robert Jenrick

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said he’s ready to name and shame building owners and developers who have yet to complete cladding remediation work.

Jenrick told the Commons there was now “no excuse for inaction”.

The Home Office, he said, was also ready to back related enforcement work by councils through a new Fire Safety Bill.

Measures announced include:

  • A Building Safety Regulator
  • Advice on building safety for multi-storey, multi-occupied buildings
  • Fire doors
  • Remediation of buildings with ACM cladding
  • Combustible cladding ban
  • Sprinklers
  • Fire Safety Bill

Jenrick was presenting the latest stats on cladding removal to the Commons.

Those stats show some 7,000 homes in the social residential sector are still to be remediated, as the government struggles to get ahead of stripping out ACM cladding.

By the MHCLG’s assessment, there are 135 high-rise residential and publicly owned buildings in England that have completed remediation works to remove and replace ACM systems – an increase of eight since the end of November.

This leaves a total of 315 high-rise residential and publicly owned buildings with ACM cladding systems unlikely to meet Building Regulations and yet to be remediated.

Jenrick said: “The government is committed to bringing about the biggest change in building safety for a generation.

“Progress on improving building safety needs to move significantly faster to ensure people are safe in their homes and building owners are held to account.

“That’s why today I’m announcing a major package of reforms, including establishing the Building Safety Regulator within the Health and Safety Executive to oversee the new regime and publishing consolidated guidance for building owners.

“Unless swift progress is seen in the coming weeks, I will publicly name building owners where action to remediate unsafe ACM cladding has not started.

“There can be no more excuses for delay – I’m demanding immediate action.”

The Local Government Association’s building safety spokesman Lord Porter, said: “It is good that the Government is looking at lowering the height requirement at which combustible cladding is banned on new buildings and accepted our call to ensure that building safety reforms protect residents in all vulnerable buildings, such as hospitals, residential schools and care homes.

“The LGA has long-warned about the need for building safety reforms to avoid creating a two-tier building safety system which leaves buildings under 18 metres vulnerable and unprotected.

“The height of a building does not provide any indication about the risk to its safety, as has been proven by recent dangerous fires in buildings below 18 metres.

“We are also pleased the Secretary of State has said he is minded to lower the height at which sprinklers are required in new buildings, which is currently too high at 30 metres, as this is something the LGA has also called for.

“Height alone should not determine whether sprinklers should be fitted, as some buildings, such as care homes, house particularly vulnerable people and we urge the Government to make this change as quick as possible and fund the retrofitting of sprinklers using a risk-based approach.

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

“Councils continue to do all they can to protect residents and ensure private landlords quickly act to make their buildings safe and the LGA is working with MHCLG to support council enforcement against those who fail to act through the Joint Inspection Team.

“ACM is not the only cladding system that poses a risk to residents and the Government needs to come forward urgently with funding to support the removal of HPL (High Pressure Laminate) and other dangerous systems.

“It is also important that councils and fire and rescue services are given a leading role in ensuring any new building safety system works and we stand ready to work with the HSE and the Government to deliver the much-needed reform to ensure residents are safe and feel safe.”

NHF chief executive Kate Henderson said associations had already started removing combustible cladding from buildings under the 18-metre threshold, based on a broader assessment of risk.

“We therefore welcome the Government’s proposals to apply a risk-based approach to evaluating building safety – something which we have been calling for.

“There are already significant capacity challenges for housing associations and other sectors involved in building remediation – including specialist contractors and fire safety experts. With potentially many more buildings requiring remediation it will be even more important that the Government takes a strategic lead in coordinating resources across the country, so that buildings most at risk are remediated first.

“We strongly support moves to simplify and consolidate Government advice on remediation, and will look at how this might help housing associations remediate their buildings.

“We are pleased that the Government is investigating options to support leaseholders to pay for remediation works,” she said.

CIH chief executive Gavin Smart focused on the role of the shadow regulator, in the anticipation of more detail on its structure and funding.

CIH has previously spoken of  risk factors being broader than height alone.

“We are glad the Secretary of State has agreed with us on this, though there now needs to be careful consideration of how many buildings will fall under the widened scope and what transitional arrangements will be put into place,” said Smart.

“We are pleased that that the 22 separate advice notes on building safety have finally been made clearer and consolidated into one document and that further advice and assurance has been provided on fire doors.

“We will study all the documents released today and will comment further once we have digested their impact, and we await more detail in the Fire Safety Bill,” he said.

Jane Duncan, Chair of the RIBA Expert Advisory Group on Fire Safety, said “far too little” had so far changed since Grenfell.

“Urgent action is needed so people can feel safe in their homes.”

“The RIBA will continue to lobby for strong baseline fire safety regulations on the use of combustible materials, means of warning and escape, and sprinkler systems, along with a comprehensive review of regulations and guidance,” she said.

London Councils say “show us the money” over the measures.

“We still need to see more details, especially on funding.

“The government has previously made funding available for remediation of buildings over 18 metres, so it would be inequitable and inconsistent if the government does not extend this support,” said Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning.

London’s boroughs have long called for stronger safety regulation and welcomed the government call for the remediation of all buildings with category 3 ACM cladding regardless of their height.

Welcome, too, was the commitment to consult on lowering the building height threshold for the use of other forms of combustible cladding.

“We urge the government to take a strong line in restricting the use of such cladding – this is crucial for keeping Londoners safe.

“Boroughs will continue working with the government to ensure our concerns are addressed and that progress is made without further delay,” he said.

 

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