Cladding removal

ROBERT JENRICK said that he did not want to give people ‘false hope’ about the pace of cladding remediation nationwide, and likened the issue to the problem of asbestos in existing buildings.

Sky News reported on its interview with Mr Jenrick, who said that removing combustible cladding from buildings across the UK will take a ‘number of years’, and that he did not want to give people ‘false hope’ by saying that the issue would ‘be resolved in six or 12 months’. Mr Jenrick added that ‘this is going to take a number of years’, and said that cladding ‘needed to be seen in the context’ of asbestos, ’widely used for insulation’, but ‘found to spark serious lung conditions and cancer’.

While some types were banned in the 1980s, Mr Jenrick pointed out that many are still ‘living and working in buildings in some cases that have that’. Asked about the ‘desperate situation’ many homeowners are living in with cladding, he said he had ‘huge sympathy’, and blamed the crisis on ‘extremely poor practice amongst developers and builders in the construction sector, and, in some cases, weak regulation’.

He claimed that the Building Safety Bill will see the government ‘legislating for the biggest change in building safety laws for 40 years, so that this can never happen again’. On aluminium composite material (ACM), Mr Jenrick said that 80% of buildings with it ‘have either been made safe’ or workers are ‘on site removing it’, adding that ‘I’ve set a government objective that we want to end the year with workers on site in every single one of those - I think in all bar a handful that will be the case’.

However, on other forms of cladding that ‘despite being less flammable than ACM’ can be ‘very dangerous indeed’, Mr Jenrick admitted that sorting this situation out is going to take ‘many years’, the minister noting that funding that had been ‘targeted’ at ACM is now being ‘accelerated’ towards removing other types. He also said ‘over-cautious’ lenders were being urged to take a ‘sensible approach’ after asking for safeguards over properties that are ‘actually quite low-risk’.