5.To make homes safe, and to know how long that will take, we need to know how many residential buildings have fire safety defects and what those defects are. The Government publishes a monthly update on the progress of remediating ACM cladding on buildings 18m and above.5 We heard that those data were “just the tip of the iceberg”.6 As Kate Henderson explained:
There is not any clear and publicly available data, as far as we are aware, on the scale of non-ACM combustible materials on high-rise buildings, or combustible materials, including ACM, on buildings below 18 metres.7
6.In addition to the lack of data on the full extent of dangerous cladding, we have warned the Government before about the prevalence of fire safety defects not directly related to cladding.8 Once again, we heard from witnesses that cladding is not the only feature making people unsafe in their homes. Other fire safety defects that require remediation extend to fire breaks, fire doors, compartmentation, balconies, and insulation, among others.9 In our June 2020 report we recommended that:
In the same way as it has done for buildings with ACM cladding, the Government should publish a monthly data release on the number of buildings with non-ACM cladding and other serious fire safety defects awaiting remediation.10
The Government responded: “We are committed to publishing all appropriate information in the Building Safety Programme’s data release when ready”, but it has not started publishing data on buildings with non-ACM cladding or other fire safety defects, nor on the prevalence of ACM cladding on buildings under 18m.11
7.We are concerned that the Government is bringing forward policy proposals, such as the loan scheme, without a good base of evidence. Richard Goodman told us that the Government assumes a similar prevalence of cladding on buildings 11–18m high as on buildings 18m or above in height, and that the likelihood for remediation will be lower for medium rise buildings due to “the ability to exit a building in time”—but neither he nor the Minister were able to provide any data.12
8.We also heard that a lack of capacity in the industry is hampering the pace of remediation. There are only so many professionals qualified to carry out both the inspections and the remedial work itself.13 Our witnesses estimated that it could take anything from 5 to 15 years to complete a programme of cladding remediation works.14 The Minister, conversely, claimed that the Government has not encountered significant capacity constraints within the industry.15
9.We are concerned that, despite our previous recommendation on this issue, the Government still lacks data on the full scale and extent of remediation needed for buildings both below and above 18m. In order to know how much it will cost to remove unsafe cladding from multi-storey buildings once and for all, how long it will take, and whether the industry has the capacity to carry out these works, the Government needs to be collecting and publishing these data as a matter of urgency.
10.We reiterate our recommendation from our June 2020 report that in the same way as it has done for buildings with ACM cladding, the Government should publish a monthly data release on the number of buildings with non-ACM cladding and other serious fire safety defects awaiting remediation. This data release should also explicitly include buildings between 11m and 18m as well as buildings 18m and above.
5 MHCLG, Building Safety Programme: monthly data release - March 2021, accessed 16 April 2021
8 HCLG Committee, Second Report of Session 2019–2021, Cladding: progress of remediation, HC 172, paras 27–36
10 HCLG Committee, Second Report of Session 2019–2021, Cladding: progress of remediation, HC 172, para 56
11 MHCLG, Government Response to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee report on Cladding: progress of remediation, September 2020, p 9
Published: 29 April 2021 Site information Accessibility statement