1.On 14 June 2017, 72 residents tragically lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire. The tower block was wrapped in highly flammable aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding, as were more than 450 high-rise residential or publicly owned buildings in England. Nearly four years after that awful tragedy, residents of some high-rise buildings have yet to see work begin to remove extremely dangerous ACM cladding. Not only that, over the past four years a host of other building safety issues have been uncovered that leave thousands of residents up and down the country living in unsafe, unsellable homes. These include cladding made of non-ACM, yet still highly combustible, materials, and issues with fire breaks, fire doors, insulation, balconies, and compartmentation.
2.Since the fateful night of the Grenfell fire, this Committee has been at the forefront of calls to ensure that both new and existing homes are safe for residents, most recently through our pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Building Safety Bill, and through several inquiries on building safety, the latest of which, published in June 2020, focussed on the progress of cladding remediation. On 10 February 2021, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government announced the Government’s latest interventions to support the removal of unsafe cladding. They include:
3.It has been our unwavering position that leaseholders should bear no cost whatsoever for the remediation of building safety defects that were not of their making. That is why, while there was much to be welcomed in the Secretary of State’s announcement, there was also much cause for concern. We decided to take evidence from affected leaseholders and stakeholders in the private and social housing sectors, to hear how they received the announcement. We are grateful to Dr Dean Buckner, Trustee, Leaseholder Knowledge Partnership; Dr Nigel Glen, CEO, Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA); Dr Will Martin, co-founder, UK Cladding Action Group; the Lord Porter of Spalding CBE, Fire and Building Safety Spokesman, Local Government Association; and Kate Henderson, Chief Executive, National Housing Association. We put our witnesses’ concerns to the Minister of State for Building Safety, Fire and Communities, Lord Greenhalgh, and his official from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Richard Goodman, Director-General, Building Safety, Grenfell & Net Zero. We are grateful to our witnesses for their time, as well as to our specialist advisers, Christine Whitehead, Emeritus Professor of Housing Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Kelvin MacDonald, Senior Fellow at the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge.
4.This report considers the scale of the problem of fire safety defects (Chapter 2), the question of how remediation of these defects should be paid for (Chapter 3), and the wider consequences for the housing market and the mental health of residents (Chapter 4). We reiterate a number of our conclusions and recommendations from our June 2020 report, and also make several others. We ask the Government to respond to this report before it introduces the Building Safety Bill to Parliament. We also note that the Government’s response to our pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Building Safety Bill is overdue and we ask that the Government respond to that report as soon as possible.
1 MHCLG, , p 8
2 MHCLG, , p 14
3 HCLG Committee, Fifth Report of Session 2019–2021, , HC 466; HCLG Committee, Second Report of Session 2019–2021, , HC 172
4 HC Deb, 10 February 2021, [Commons Chamber]