The government has said it expects Grenfell-style cladding removal to be complete by June 2020 – with social housing blocks expected to be complete by the end of this year.
It has also warned the owners of private buildings with dangerous aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding to “expect enforcement action” if they do not have a removal plan in place by year-end.
It came as the government announced that ‘high-pressure laminate’ cladding had passed a safety test when combined with rock fibre insulation – but still recommended that it is removed if combined with combustible products.
The progress of ACM cladding removal from the 433 blocks where it has been identified since Grenfell has been glacial.
As of last month just 106 blocks had completed remediation work, leaving 327 outstanding.
In the social housing sector, work was completed on 56 of 158 blocks, while in the private sector work was finished on just 13 of the 166 blocks.
There are 35 private sector buildings with no remediation plans.
In a written statement published today, housing secretary James Brokenshire said: “While many building owners have rightly taken action, there are still a number of residential buildings across the public and private sectors with unsafe ACM cladding where remediation has not yet started. I am clear that this situation is unacceptable.
“In the private sector, progress has been slower… By the end of December 2019, any building in the private sector which I have not been assured is permanently safe should have a clear commitment to remediation, with a start and finish date agreed.
“Where no such safety assurance or plan has been brought forward by the end of December, building owners can expect enforcement action to be taken. My expectation is that, other than in exceptional circumstances, building owners should complete remediation within six months of agreeing a plan – by June 2020.”
The government has committed £600m of funding to pay for the remediation work. It announced £400m for the removal of cladding from social housing blocks almost a year after the Grenfell Tower fire, following lobbying from survivors.
A year later, it added £200m to pay for removal from private blocks following intense pressure from leaseholders who faced being hit with the bills – including Inside Housing’s End Our Cladding Scandal campaign.
This campaign also called on the government to set a “firm timescale of no more than two years for the work”.
Mr Brokenshire’s statement today marks the first time the government has given any indication of timescales for the completion of the vital safety work.
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