Don’t forget care homes, urges new report on dangerous cladding
The Public Accounts Committee has slammed the Government today in a damning report that looks at the progress made to-date on remediating dangerous cladding.
Committee chair Meg Hillier describes the MHCLG’s promise to ensure all high rise buildings are safe for residents to live in by June this year as “pie-in-the-sky”. She accuses the government of failing to “plan, resource, or deliver” the removal of cladding on blocks around the country.
The committee, which examines the value for money of government projects, programmes and service delivery, also accuses the MHCLG of having “no convincing plan” to ensure that cladding removal and replacement is completed by its new deadline – now pushed back to the end of next year.
Only 158 of the 455 high-rise blocks found to have Grenfell-style ACM cladding have been remediated since 2017, with many others clad in materials that may be equally flammable. The scale of the problem is only now coming to light as mortgage lenders demand External Wall System (EWS1) forms and fire risk assessments continue to expose the extent of safety issues in flats.
The Public Accounts Committee has set out a range of recommendations. To resolve the problems still being faced by leaseholders, it is urging the Government to:
- Take “rigorous” enforcement action against building owners who are considered unlikely to complete remediation by the new 2021 deadline.
- Present a plan within three months setting out how to help leaseholders affected by zero valuations and spiralling insurance premiums.
- Set out the steps being taken to make the remediation process transparent for those residents affected by the cladding crisis.
However, we think one of the most worrying issues raised by today’s report is the fact that the Committee has flagged up the possibility that there may be care homes around the country below 18m with dangerous cladding that the government currently has “no knowledge of”. If such homes are effectively operating below the radar this looks very bad indeed for the Government. It must take this extremely seriously - and act fast to get checks carried out.
The scandal of leaseholders unable to sell their flats – appalling though it is - could pale into insignificance against the very real possibility that numbers of vulnerable elderly people may be living in potential tinder boxes that no one has yet identified.
Author : Maryanne Bowring