1 May 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Government figures released reveal that there are currently 297 tower blocks over 18 metres high using similar cladding to that at Grenfell Tower, which suffered a horrific fire last June.
The data, published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, show that since last month no additional social tower blocks have had Grenfell-style cladding replaced, and a total of only seven have had the unsafe cladding fully replaced. This equates to only 4 per cent of social tower blocks affected - and 151 of these are social housing buildings.
At the social high-rise blocks affected - 34 per cent of the buildings surveyed - no works to remove or replace the unsafe cladding have been started.
Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter, said: "The fact that so many homes are still covered in cladding which has failed fire safety tests is a disgrace. It has left tenants uncertain of when their buildings will be made safe, and private tenants are fearful of what this could cost.
"This vital safety work is mired in delays and confusion, and for the sake of the people living in these tower blocks, this chaotic approach cannot continue.
"Almost a year on from the Grenfell fire, it's time for the government to step up and take responsibility for ensuring these homes are safe by providing total clarity on fire safety, offering emergency financial support for councils, and by setting a firm deadline for completion of these essential works."
The Building Safety Programme publishes monthly updates on the high-rise residential buildings in England that have unsafe cladding, including information on the remediation of social housing buildings.
A MHCLG spokeswoman said: "This work must be done properly and will take time, however interim fire safety measures are in place to keep people protected in their homes.
"Over 65 per cent of social housing buildings with unsafe cladding are currently going through the complex process of remediating their buildings."
Separately, in a statement about the current British Standard 8414 test, by a expert panel appointed by the government on immediate building safety measures following the Grenfell Tower fire, said: "Building owners should take their own professional advice on any further action, with regard to their cladding system, reflecting their own particular circumstances."
It added: "Where panels are removed for inspection or testing purposes, the integrity of the whole cladding system needs to be maintained. The structural design of any replacement cladding needs to be checked - it should not be assumed that existing fixings and systems are suitable for replacement systems. The need to ensure that replacement cladding systems or components protect the building adequately from rain and condensation."
The Independent Expert Panel also agrees that the process currently in place for reviewing British Standards (under the British Standards Institute) is the correct one. This process involves the relevant experts and evidence. Dame Judith Hackitt's independent review of the Building Regulations and fire safety system is also examining the testing, labelling and marketing of fire safety products.