News

Get On With Fire Checks, Urges PM As Flammable Cladding Found On 120 High-Rises

The number of tower blocks found to have combustible cladding after failing Government fire safety tests has grown to 120, Theresa May has announced.

The Prime Minister said flammable cladding was found in the high-rise blocks across 37 local authority areas in England in tests carried out in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Mrs May said 100% of the cladding samples tested have been found to be combustible and urged local authorities and housing associations to "get on" with fire safety checks without waiting for test results.

At Prime Minister's Questions, Mrs May said 282 good quality temporary properties have been identified for victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster, 132 families have had their needs assessed, and 65 offers of temporary accommodation have been made.

The Government has provided nearly £1.25 million in discretionary payments and will be giving an extra £1 million to a local group of charities, trusts and foundations "which have been doing such important work", Mrs May said.

The PM said she expects to name a judge for the public inquiry into the disaster "soon".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asked for a "categorical" answer on whether cladding with a combustible core, such as polyethylene, is legal for high-rise buildings, and if that used on Grenfell Tower was legal.

Mrs May replied: "The situation is, in relation to the cladding, that the building regulations identify the cladding which is compatible with the building regulations and that which is non-compliant with those building regulations.

"My understanding is that this particular cladding was not compliant with the building regulations.

"This raises wider issues, as the House will recognise, and it is important that we are careful in how we talk about this because there is a criminal investigation taking place and it's important that we allow the police to do that criminal investigation and take the decisions that they need to take."

Mrs May added: "It is not just a question of what laws you have. It is how those are being applied. We have the building regulations about compliant materials.

"The question is why we have seen in local authority area after local authority area materials being put up that appear not to comply with those building regulations. That is what we need to get to the bottom of."

Mr Corbyn said the Government should now halt its planned cuts to the fire service.

"Under her predecessor (David Cameron) fire safety audits and inspections were cut by a quarter, fire authority budgets were cut by a quarter," he said.

"Can the Prime Minister give an assurance to the House that the further 20% cuts to the fire service planned by 2020 will now be halted?"