Faced with a written Commons question on what steps MHCLG will take to cut cladding replacement times, Housing Minister Esther McVey held the government’s “building safety is the responsibility of the building owner” line.
Labour’s Steve Reed framed his question around reducing the time period between the removal of combustible cladding and the installation of a non-combustible equivalent.
McVey said MHCLG had “regular engagement” with a named contact from each high-rise residential building with unsafe ACM cladding to monitor remediation progress.
“Where building owners are failing to make acceptable progress towards completing remediation, further action will be taken – building safety is the responsibility of the building owner,” she said.
Reed got little further forward asking what assessment MHCLG had made of the adequacy of the £5m of funding allocated to councils to undertake identification of the cladding used on buildings in their areas.
McVey reiterated that councils had been asked to undertake a data collection exercise on residential buildings 18 metres and over in height to identify their external wall systems and, in recognition of the extra work required, £4m of New Burdens funding was allocated in November last year.
“Its allocation reflected the distribution of high rise residential buildings across local authorities,” said McVey.
“(MHCLG) is in regular contact with both local authorities and housing associations to support them as they carry out the data collection,” she said.
Reed asked about MHCLG assessment of the accuracy of the information provided by building owners to councils on cladding and insulation on their buildings.
McVey said the responsibility for collecting and providing information for the data collection lay with councils and housing associations – with councils having powers under the Housing Act 2004 to require building owners to provide documentation.
“This may be used to require information on the external wall system of a building.
“New Burdens funding has been provided to local authorities to offer support for the completion of the External Wall Systems data collection,” she said.
Reed then switched focus to MHCLG assessing the adequacy of enforcement powers available to councils to compel building owners to provide accurate information on the cladding and insulation present on their buildings.
Referencing the Housing Act 2004 again, McVey said councils could pursue enforcement action against buildings that are hazardous through the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) regime.
- In the Lords, Lord Kennedy of Southwark was told results of tests on non-ACM cladding “will be published shortly.”
In a written question, Lord Kennedy had asked whether Government they intend to publish the full results of fire safety tests on non-ACM types of cladding.
Viscount Younger said Government was committed to publish the results of all the tests on non-ACM cladding.
“Further tests are being undertaken on additional cladding materials including timber cladding and Class D High Pressure Laminates of various thicknesses and manufacturers – the report will be published shortly,” he said.