Firefighters marching with Grenfell fire survivors and their supporters in North Kensington on February 14

FIREFIGHTERS yesterday slammed the government and building owners as an HCLG Committee cladding survey highlighted widespread safety failings.

The Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Committee has published the findings of a survey into the progress of remediation work to improve fire safety in residential buildings. The survey highlights significant ongoing fire safety issues in multi-occupancy buildings across the country, leaving residents with facing bills of thousands of pounds.
The survey found that:

  • 70% of respondents had different forms of combustible cladding and many had other fire safety issues including missing or inadequate fire breaks (34%), combustible or missing insulation (30%), timber balconies or walkways (14%) and inadequate fire doors (5%).
  • Residents are sceptical about whether the government’s £1bn building safety fund is enough to make homes safe and are already incurring huge costs for measures such as waking watches.
  • Many residents are also angry that it is the government, not building owners, who are footing the bill for remediation work.

Responding, Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: ‘The government, big business and wealthy building owners have had three years since Grenfell to fix the dangerous homes still trapping thousands of residents. The accounts in this report should make them feel utterly ashamed.
‘Both residents and firefighters have warned the government and building owners countless times that this crisis goes far beyond the ACM cladding that was on Grenfell Tower but, just as with Grenfell residents, they were ignored.
‘The fire safety fund announced in the Budget still abandons thousands of residents trapped in dangerous buildings below 18 metres and in buildings with other fire safety defects.
‘There is also still no clarity on who is responsible for remediation work. This limbo is a perfect excuse for government and those who own the buildings to continue passing the buck between one another whilst failing to address the concerns of residents.
‘£1bn is not enough to address the building safety crisis we are facing. The government needs to urgently conduct an open and accountable national audit of unsafe buildings, properly cost the work and set out ways to recover the cost from building owners.’