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Inquiry into government's adequacy in removing dangerous cladding announced

A NEW inquiry into the process of stripping combustible cladding from hundreds of high-rise homes was announced today following pressure from campaigners, as thousands of people remain at risk.

MPs on the housing, communities and local government committee will examine the adequacy of government funding for the removal of dangerous cladding.

A £200 million pot created last year can only be used to take down aluminium composite material cladding (ACM), the type that was used on Grenfell Tower, and does not extend to other flammable materials, campaigners warned.

Residents have complained of uncertainty in the timescale for removal and potential costs of tens of thousands of pounds.

Other burdens include increased emotional strain, the financial drain of paying for fire patrols, higher insurance premiums and difficulties in obtaining mortgage finance.

The Association of Residential Managing Agents, whose members run more than 50,000 apartment buildings, said 25 per cent of their properties with 50 units or more had been found to have unsafe cladding following an analysis that used a sample of the largest buildings.

Across the entire portfolio, this equates to 1,375 buildings housing 550,000 people, the association said.

Housing committee chairman Clive Betts said: “The knock-on effect of dangerous cladding on buildings has been significant, with homeowners facing increased insurance or mortgage premiums and even having to fund round-the-clock fire patrols simply to stay in their own homes.

“The government is providing financial support to enable the removal of ACM cladding from privately owned buildings, but this appears to be far short of what is necessary to address the real scale of the issue.”

The Labour MP said the committee had launched the inquiry to understand what impact the government's response has had in providing support and driving forward remediation work.

MPs have also urged the government to set aside ring-fenced money in next week’s Budget for the removal of all forms of dangerous cladding.

The UK Cladding Action Group said it was grateful to the committee for acting “quickly and decisively to focus a light on this important national issue.”

A spokesman said: “Hundreds of thousands of leaseholders across the country are living in fear in their own homes. We are trapped, mentally and financially.”

The group expressed hope that the inquiry would “shine a light into the decades of faulty, unclear or ambiguous” building regulations and the “lack of oversight” that caused unsafe properties to be built, signed off and sold.

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