Three more years before all Grenfell-style cladding removed from buildings

Grenfell-style cladding will not be removed from all at-risk buildings for another three and a half years if the work continues at its present rate, Government data has shown. 

It would mean the dangerous covering would have remained on high rise buildings for seven and a half years after it was blamed for helping spread the fire at the Grenfell Tower block in west London, which killed 72 people in 2017.

Analysis of figures released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) revealed 30 buildings have yet to have work start at all on removing dangerous cladding and 168 are still being worked on.

In some cases, the cladding had been removed or the works were finished but not signed off.

This is down from 45 buildings that still had unsafe cladding and where no work had started to remove it in December 2020, with a further 201 buildings still undergoing work to remove ACM cladding.

A further 61 buildings have now had their remedial work completed, meaning they are now free from unsafe cladding.

The data is released monthly, with the most recent document covering up to September 30.

The Government said the new Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary Michael Gove was looking ‘afresh’ at this issue to ensure work was being done as soon as possible.

But if the rate continues, the Liberal Democrats said it would take another three and a half years to complete.

The party has demanded Chancellor Rishi Sunak put the removal of the cladding at the heart of his Budget next week.

Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for housing, said: ‘It is an utter disgrace that it could take yet another four years to finish the job. 

‘This is an appalling dereliction of duty by the Conservatives. Their handling of the building safety scandal has been nothing short of scandalous.’

Labour’s shadow housing secretary Lucy Powell added: ‘Four years on from the Grenfell tragedy, the Government’s response to the building safety crisis has been beset by inertia, indifference and constant delay.’

The figures also show that only £79 million of the Government’s £200 million fund to support private leaseholders with removing dangerous cladding has been spent so far.

A DLUHC spokesperson said: ‘We will not compromise on building safety, and building owners must take swift action to fix dangerous cladding. The Government will fund every eligible application to the Building Safety Fund.

‘So far we’ve processed over 600 building applications, with estimated remediation costs of £2.5 billion, and we are progressing the remainder as quickly as possible.

‘Of high-rise residential buildings identified as having unsafe ACM cladding at the beginning of 2020, 97% have been fully fixed or have works under way, backed by over £5 billion.

‘The new Secretary of State is looking afresh at work in this area to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect and support leaseholders, and he will not hesitate to take further action if necessary.’

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