Grenfell Tower cladding is banned in UK, Philip Hammond says

The flammable cladding used at Grenfell Tower is not banned merely in the US and Europe but in the UK too, he claims

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Chancellor Philip Hammond has said that the controversial non fire-resistant cladding fitted to Grenfell Tower is in fact banned in the UK.

In the days after the tragedy occurred, attention has focused on the the panels that were fitted to the outside of the tower last year that have been labelled flammable by German and US authorities and banned from use on high rise buildings. 

Asked about this by the BBC’s Andrew Marr, the Chancellor said: “My understanding is the cladding in question, this flammable cladding which is banned in Europe and the US, is also banned here.

“So there are two separate questions. One, are our regulations correct; do they permit the right kind of materials and ban the wrong kind of materials? The second question is were they correctly complied with?

“That will be a subject that the inquiry will look at. It will also be a subject that the criminal investigation will be looking at.”

Mr Hammond also suggested that in the days since the fire, the Government had been given advice that retro-fitting the type of sprinkler systems that were missing from Grenfell Tower is not always the best course of action, in contradiction to statements made by the Fire Brigade Union and in the report into the Lakanal House fire in 2013, which killed six people in south London.

In the wake of the fire, it has emerged that the panels fitted to the outside of Grenfell Tower during an £8.7m two-year refurbishment completed in 2016 were the cheaper flammable version of two types made by the same company, which cost £22 each, compared to the fire-resistant version which cost £24 each.

The Reynobond panels, made by a US firm, are aluminium coated with a flammable plastic core. The total saving from using the non fire-resistant panels has been estimated at around £6,000. There are also concerns that the addition of the panels to the outside of the building created a “chimney effect” sending flames up the outside of the building, spreading the fire faster.

A criminal investigation is already underway, after which Theresa May has said there will be a full public inquiry into the fire.

The Chancellor added: “When the inquiry produces its recommendations we will act on them.”

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