Boris Johnson admits failure to replace Grenfell-style cladding is 'disgraceful'

Watchdogs have previously criticised government delays on making buildings safe

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Wednesday 23 September 2020 13:20 BST
Buildings have been fitted with flammable cladding which needs replacing
Buildings have been fitted with flammable cladding which needs replacing

The failure to replace dangerous Grenfell-style cladding three years after the tragedy is "disgraceful", Boris Johnson has admitted.

The prime minister was asked during prime minister's questions on Wednesday what steps the government was taking to replace unsafe cladding on high-rise buildings, following as series of delays and criticism by watchdogs.

Ministers promised over a year ago that it would fund the replacement of cladding on high-rise private residential buildings, but many residents are still waiting for action.

Labour MP for Vauxhall Florence Eshalomi said the delay was leading hundreds of leaseholders across her consistencies "unable to sell or remortgage their properties".

The prime mister replied: "I am aware of this problem of people facing real disadvantage, leaseholders and others, because of the unsafe cladding  still on their buildings.

"I think it is disgraceful, and both ACM and HPL cladding should, in my view, come off as fast as possible and we are investing massively to achieve that as fast we can. I sincerely appreciate the problem that she raises."

In May 2019 the government said it would provide £200 million funding to speed up cladding replacement hundreds of millions of pounds for for 170 privately-owned towers.

But rules for a further £1 billion cladding replacement fund unveiled in May this year excluded a number of buildings with combustible cladding that were previously assumed to be covered.

In some cases, leaseholders are known to have taken out loans worth tens of thousands of pounds to make their buildings safe in advance of assumed government cash.

The National Audit Office warned in June that the government was falling well behind on its promise to replace dangerous cladding. 

The watchdog warned that “the pace of progress has lagged behind [the government’s] own expectations, particularly in the private residential sector”. It added that the government “It has a long way to go to make all high-rise buildings safe for residents.”

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