Cladding fitted to Grenfell Tower was reportedly changed to a cheaper type to save Kensington and Chelsea Council £293,000.
According to leaked emails seen by The Times, project managers Artelia UK, who were overseeing a £8.6million refurbishment of the tower, came under pressure to reduce costs.
An email from July 2014 from the council’s management organisation read: “We need good costs for Cllr Feilding-Mellen and the planner tomorrow at 8.45am!”
The email, referencing Rock Feilding-Mellen, deputy leader of the council and its housing committee chair, set out three options including using aluminium panels rather than zinc, the newspaper reported.
Zinc panels would have been non-combustible.
The tower’s aluminium cladding had a flammable polythene core and have been blamed for helping spread the blaze across the 24 floors.
The council has since said that the budget for the project had been £6.9million but Feilding-Mellen had actually wanted it to be increased to £10.3million.
A spokesman said: “Cllr Feilding-Mellen and the cabinet were willing to approve significant and repeated increases in the overall budget based on the advice received from KCTMO, which was responsible not only for specifying and delivering the project but also for ensuring the building met the necessary and current building regulations.
“Any requests by Cllr Feilding-Mellen and the housing department to justify the TMO’s requests for increases to the budget would have been made in the spirit of ensuring that public funds were being well managed and could be justified. Safety would not have been compromised.”
The BBC further reported that the savings were part of an ongoing effort by the council and the local tenant management organisation to reduce the cost of the refurbishment.
A source close to one of the many companies involved in the project told the broadcaster that the change was typical of constant pressure by councils to cut the costs of building refurbishments.
The cost-cutting revelation comes after the council last night abandoned a meeting they wanted to hold in secret after a judge ordered journalists could attend.
The council opted to hold the first cabinet meeting since the June 14 disaster behind closed doors - shutting out survivors and any scrutiny from the media - claiming it would threaten public safety.