Housing Secretary unable to say how many tower blocks still have dangerous cladding

9 June 2022, 11:33 | Updated: 9 June 2022, 11:39

Nick Ferrari corners Michael Gove on cladding numbers

By Asher McShane

Michael Gove was unable to put a figure on the number of tower blocks that still have dangerous cladding when challenged on LBC this morning.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC, the secretary of state for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities was asked how many buildings still had flammable cladding on them.

Mr Gove he said he could only provide figures for the number of buildings over 18 metres tall, which were still clad with the most dangerous product; ACM – the same cladding as was on Grenfell Tower.

But that’s only going to be a tiny proportion of the overall crisis, as 486 high rise buildings have been found to have ACM cladding.

By contrast, there have been 2,824 applications from high rise buildings alone, for Government cash from the Building Safety Fund to fix buildings with non-ACM problems.

Of those, 943 buildings are proceeding with an application for funding, just 254 buildings have started remediation work and only 30 have completed the job. It doesn't even cover buildings below 18m.

Mr Gove told Nick: “A significant number, we’ve reduced the number of buildings that are over 18 metres high that have that cladding, and there’s still much more work to do on those which are at the 11-18 metre area, which is also a cause for concern,”

“I’ve concluded negotiations with developers, we’ve got £4 million out of them in order to speed this up.

“Remediation work has been far too slow but at last it’s accelerating.”

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But when pushed again he said he didn’t “have the numbers in front of me”.

He added: “We can give you the exact figures on the number of buildings over 18 metres that have had ACM cladding removed, which is the worst type of cladding.”

And asked again about figures for buildings that still do have cladding, he said: “We can give you those figures.”

Tuesday marks five years since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in which 72 people lost their lives.

People have shared their own stories online after Gove was stumped by Nick’s question.

One person posted: “Today it's 2y 9m since our defective building was wiped out in a fire. The rebuild (our equivalent of 'remediation') hasn't even started, so probably 2yrs to go.

"The developer still hasn't come to the negotiating table with us to address compensation for residents' losses."

Another wrote: "Building hasn't gone public, but London, under 18m, ongoing since December 2019, developer agreed to pay since Christmas 2021 but huge delays due to PI insurance. Hopeful to start work on site autumn (maybe), work will take 12 months(ish). Looking at finishing in 2023 (maybe)."

A resident of Vista Tower in Stevenage posted: “We have waited since August 2019 when we found out the building was unsafe for work to start and have no schedule at all.

"Just a provisional bill for £208,000 per leaseholder in our service charge."

Another person said: "SE London, sub-11m, timber cladding and missing cavity barriers. No funding, excluded from all support measures, at a complete impasse."

The leader of the Fire Brigades' Union has said he's not hopeful the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire will lead to significant change.

Matt Wrack told LBC he feels no one is learning lessons and the process of removing dangerous cladding has been painfully slow.