For now, the construction industry is understandably focused on managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, important issues around building safety must not be forgotten. The Government was keen to reiterate this in its policy paper of 02 April 2020.
In the paper, the Ministry of Housing, Communities &Local Government (MHCLG) said Government will do all it can to support relevant stakeholders to ensure that remediation work to remove unsafe cladding continues where it is safe to do so.
Management consultants, Faithful & Gould, have been appointed to work with the government’s expert, Dr David Hancock, to “seek solutions to COVID-19 impacts” on remediation efforts. The paper confirms that ACM PE cladding, as found on the Grenfell Tower, presents an unparalleled risk and should be remediated. Non-ACM cladding should also be removed if assessed to be unsafe.
On 7 April 2020, MHCLG published a letter from the Director of the Building Safety Programme, which again emphasized that building safety remains an absolute priority for the Government and, as such, a £1 billion ‘Building Safety Fund’ has been pledged for 2020/21 to assist with the remediation of non-ACM cladding systems on certain residential blocks. This fund is in addition to the £600 million already pledged in respect of ACM cladding systems.
The message is clear. The construction industry should continue in its efforts to identify and remediate unsafe cladding. Perhaps this is even more pertinent during the current crisis, given that residents have been asked to “stay at home”.
"..the government’s view is that work to remove unsafe cladding from buildings is critical to public safety and so much remain a top priority, while recognising the challenges presented by the spread of Covid-19 are severe.”