Today Labour will set out its key building safety demands almost a year after the Grenfell Tower fire.
The Hackitt Review, which the government established post-Grenfell to examine regulations, should be published this week. But most suspect its recommendations won’t go far enough – in fact, the review isn’t even expected to propose a ban on combustible cladding and insulation.
Instead, Dame Hackitt’s report is set to tell us that residents’ safety concerns should be reported to a ‘designated person’. The Conservative-led Local Government Association isn’t impressed and will call for a fresh review unless a ban is advocated, according to Inside Housing.
John Healey has revealed Labour’s clear and detailed demands in a letter to new Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire. The opposition’s housing spokesman argues the government must ban combustible cladding, ban ‘desktop studies’ so materials have to properly tested, set up an emergency Fire Safety Fund to help councils and housing associations with the cost of urgent works, and ensure private renters aren’t financially punished for living in unsafe tower blocks.
The Shadow Housing Secretary said: “The forthcoming final report of the Hackitt Review into building regulations and fire safety will be an important chance for the government to show its commitment to a complete overhaul of the discredited system of building safety checks and controls. When people’s lives are at risk, the government’s duty is clear-cut and government action must be equally clear-cut.”
His demands follow Monday’s Westminster Hall debate on the Grenfell inquiry, in which Labour’s Alex Sobel asked Tory MP Giles Watling whether he would be joining calls for Dame Judith to “recommend bans on combustible materials on tower blocks and on so-called desktop studies”.
Healey’s letter points out that the Prime Minister has not followed through on her commitments and “people are rightly asking why so little has changed since 14 June last year”. He calls for a cross-party approach, but the Tories have failed to address these issues throughout the 11 months that have passed since 72 people in Grenfell died.
“What was a national disaster is now becoming a national disgrace,” Healey says. It’s clear that Theresa May needs to get a grip of her government and take decisive action to ensure another fatal tragedy doesn’t occur.