Sector’s regulatory response to Grenfell ‘overly burdensome’

Former resident Gill Kernick says a “culture of blame” prevents identification of other underlying causes of the Grenfell disaster.

Grenfell Road sign near Grenfell Tower

The sector’s response to the Grenfell disaster has been “overly burdensome” in terms of regulation, with lessons still not learnt from the event, according to Gill Kernick, International Safety Consultant and former resident of the Grenfell Tower.

Speaking at HQN’s Aftershock 2020 event in London, Kernick said the night’s event highlighted “a lack of competency” in the industry – changing her question from what can be learnt from the disaster two and a half years ago to ‘Why don’t we learn?’.

As reported by 24housing in October last year, Phase One of the Grenfell Inquiry revealed “compelling evidence” of the tower being too dangerous to live in.

The report cited the principle reason why flames spread at such speed was the aluminium composite material (ACM) panels with a flammable core, which “acted as a source of fuel”.

New stats also revealed some 7,000 homes in the residential social-housing sector are still to be remediated, as the government struggles to get ahead of stripping ACM cladding.

According to Kernick, two and a half years on there is still “no clarity” over what happened on the night of the disaster, posing the question as to whether the “worst-case scenario” was ever prepared for.

But she told the conference that there needs to be a shift in narrative “from blame” to learning.

“Regulatory compliance doesn’t necessarily guarantee safe outcomes and may unintentionally increase risk,” she said.

“But learn to look at that risk differently, learn to listen and embrace diverse views. The answers to housing don’t lie within housing.

“Change requires disruption and disruption requires change.”

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