What you need to know about cladding and other serious fire safety defects, including what is and isn’t covered by the Building Safety Fund.
NEW: We recommend you read this recent article by Liam Spender, a solicitor and Trustee of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, for information on how we have ended up with cladding and fire safety issues:
What is cladding?
Cladding refers to the material which is wrapped around the outside of a building to improve appearance and energy efficiency. It is not one specific material and may comprise multiple and different materials.
The safety of cladding is not just about the outer layer – it is the safety of the entire system which has to be assessed. This requires an intrusive inspection by a qualified individual to check the materials used and how they were installed.
ACM (Aluminium Composite Material) is the type of cladding that was used on Grenfell Tower and which is now known to be dangerously combustible. Following the Grenfell Tower fire, the Government banned the use of ACM cladding on new buildings and set aside £600m to remove this type of cladding from existing high-rise buildings.
Certain types of non-ACM cladding such as HPL (High Pressure Laminate) panels – common in the UK – are also considered to be a serious fire risk. In March 2020 the Government set aside an additional £1 billion for the remediation of non-ACM cladding systems from buildings over 18m.
Building Safety Fund
The Building Safety Fund only covers removal of the external cladding system, i.e. “the components that are attached to the primary structure of a building to form a non-structural external surface. The cladding system includes the weather-exposed outer layer or ‘screen, fillers. Insulation, membranes, brackets, cavity barriers, flashing, fixings, gaskets and sealants.”
There are a range of other external and internal fire safety defects, however, that may need remediation including inadequate or missing fire breaks, combustible balconies and inadequate fire doors. These defects are not covered by the Fund.
A survey carried out by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee found that more than a third (34%) of respondents had missing or inadequate fire breaks while a further 30% noted combustible or missing insulation. Other issues reported included timber balconies or walkways (14%) and inadequate fire doors (5%) (Inside Housing 06/05/20).
The deadline for claiming from the Building Safety Fund has been extended to 30 June 2021. To qualify for funding, remedial works will need to start on site by 30 September 2021.
Buildings under 18m
Buildings under 18m are not covered by the Building Safety Fund, meaning around 88,000 buildings between 11m and 18m require remediation work but have no recourse to funding.
The Building Safety Fund must cover all buildings, regardless of height, and a range of internal and external fire safety defects, not just cladding
We are calling on the Government to End Our Cladding Scandal with 10 Steps