MPs criticise government over “too slow” Grenfell response

MPs have criticised the government over its response to the Grenfell tragedy, saying it has been“far too slow” in reforming the building and fire safety regime and is still not doing enough to remove dangerous cladding from existing buildings.

The criticisms comes on a report published today by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, whose chair Clive Betts MP said: “We are two years on from the Grenfell Tower disaster and the government is far behind where it should be in every aspect of its response.

“Further delay is simply not acceptable. The government cannot morally justify funding the replacement of one form of dangerous cladding, but not others. It should immediately extend its fund to cover the removal and replacement of any form of combustible cladding – as defined by the government’s combustible cladding ban – from any high-rise or high-risk building.

“Much more progress should also have been made on developing a comprehensive building and fire safety framework. This is simply not good enough. It has been over two years since the fire at Grenfell Tower, and more than a year since the publication of the Final Report of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, and yet the government has only just published a consultation into its proposals for reform of the building safety regulatory system. The government must pick up the pace of reform, before it is too late.

“We would like to pay tribute to the victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, and thank them for giving evidence to our inquiry. We have a duty to learn the lessons of the failures that had such a devastating impact on so many lives. As of yet, the government has failed to do so.”

Responding to the report, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This report echoes all of the warnings we have made about the government’s half-hearted response to Grenfell. The removal of flammable ACM cladding has been painstakingly slow – only one building had its ACM cladding removed last month. The government’s approach has also abandoned the tens of thousands of people in buildings covered with other flammable materials. Everyone deserves to sleep safe at night.

“Grenfell should have seen root-and-branch reform of the UK’s fire safety regime, yet we have seen nothing but delay and inaction from this government. We are campaigning on a number of straightforward steps that the government can take, from establishing national structures to coordinate and set standards for fire and rescue services, to increasing the number of fire safety officers to catch risks before they become tragedies.
“As things stand, there has been virtually nothing done to prevent another fire like Grenfell from happening. Time and time again, we have raised the issues in this report, but the silence from government is deafening. This is a national emergency which is being met by the government with utter complacency.”
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