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Grenfell building regulations 'not fit for purpose,' safety review concludes

CURRENT building regulations are “not fit for purpose” and leave too much room for people to cut corners, a review into fire safety in the wake of Grenfell has said.

In the interim report Dame Judith Hackitt has called for a “change in culture” within the construction industry to put safety ahead of cutting costs.

“The mindset of doing things as cheaply as possible and passing on responsibility for problems and shortcomings of others must stop,” she wrote in the foreword of the Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety report.

The independent review was ordered after the Grenfell fire on June 14, which killed 71 people.

Former health and safety chief Ms Hackitt said she was “shocked” by some of the practices she has uncovered – including with original building designs being ignored during construction.  

“What is initially designed is not what is being built, and quality assurance of materials and people is seriously lacking,” she said.

The report also claims that unclear and confusing industry standards have allowed dangerous cladding to be installed on tower blocks.

It’s suspected that pressure to keep the costs low when Grenfell Tower was refurbished, resulted in a cheaper, combustible cladding material being wrapped around its exterior. A fire-resistant alternative which would have cost £2 more per square metre was rejected.

In the aftermath of the fire, hundreds more buildings were identified as having similar flammable cladding to that found on Grenfell.

A full report is expected to follow in spring 2018, focusing on an overhaul of the regulatory system and the improvement of safety standards.

Shadow housing secretary John Healey welcomed the interim report but flagged up that ministers were told years ago by coroners investigating fatal tower block fires that building safety rules needed to be revised.

He called on Tory ministers to start acting on existing recommendations immediately and incorporate the pointers from Ms Hackitt rather than wait for her full report.

“It is now four and a half years since two coroners’ reports into previous high-rise fires recommended an overhaul of building regulations. Ministers ignored the recommendations then and their promise to issue new regulations was never honoured,” he said.

“[Ministers] must now quickly give people confidence that our system of fire regulation has the clarity, accountability and proper standards needed so that no-one feels unsafe in their home.”

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