A report from the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has called for the proposed ban on combustible cladding high-rise buildings to cover all existing residential buildings as well as hospitals, residential homes, student accommodation and hotels.
The report is the culmination of a mini-inquiry by the committee in response to the Hackitt Review, which called for a simplification of building regulations and a change in culture to increase competency but fell short of recommending a ban on the use of combustible materials.
The mini-inquiry, which heard from industry representatives, fire experts, building owners and insurers, concluded that the while Dame Judith Hackitt was right to highlight the need for behaviour change there was a need for a robust system of oversight and meaningful sanctions, underpinned by prescriptive approach to ensure minimum standards.
The report outlines several conflicts of interest that exist in the construction industry, with a particular concern with construction companies being able to appoint their own inspectors and manufacturers choosing the most lenient testing bodies for their products.
The Committee also called for the Government to prohibit the practice of Fire Rescue Authorities acting as the enforcement authority where their commercial trading arms are providing safety advice.
Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
“We welcome the intention of the Government to ban combustible cladding, but the proposals do not go far enough. A ban on dangerous cladding must be extended beyond new high-rise constructions, to existing residential buildings as well as other high-risk buildings.
“The industry is riven with conflicts of interest at every turn, with manufacturers choosing the most lenient testing bodies for their products. It just cannot be right that builders get to choose who marks their homework and urgent action is needed to make sure this does not continue. Fire Rescue Authorities should not be able to pass judgement on the work of their own commercial trading arms.”
Metropolitan Police detectives confirmed on 19 July, 2018 that three people were being interviewed under caution for gross negligence manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and breaches of Health and Safety legislation and said “it is likely that further interviews will take place in the coming weeks and months.”