What has the leader of the fire safety review said about a cladding ban?

Published: 18th May 2018

In brief

Claim

The leader of the government’s independent review into building regulations and fire safety said she didn’t think it was her job to call for the banning of combustible materials in cladding.

Conclusion

Correct, she said she didn’t think it was her role to go into “the detail of individual regulations or the specifics of the guidance”. She welcomed the government’s consultation on a ban but has also raised concerns that a ban might “create a false sense of security”.

“When the lady that did the inquiry, the Hackitt inquiry, when she was asked why she didn’t call for it [the banning of cladding], she said she didn’t think it was her job.”

Diane Abbott MP, 17 May 2018

Dame Judith Hackitt, the leader of the government’s independent review into building regulations and fire safety, has said she didn’t think it was her role to go into “the detail of individual regulations or the specifics of the guidance”. She has also raised concerns about the effectiveness of a ban.

The independent review called for a “radical rethink of the whole system”, but has been criticised for not calling for an outright ban on cladding. It recommended an ‘outcomes-based’ system where buildings have to achieve a set level of safety rather than be built according to a set list. It said its aim was to “move away from telling those responsible [...] ‘what to do’ and place them in a position of making intelligent decisions”. The review recommends a more robust regulatory framework and, among other recommendations, calls for a more effective product testing regime.

When asked by the Housing Select Committee why she did not advocate an explicit ban on combustible materials, she said: “I made it very clear in the early meetings that I had with many people that my role was to look at that system and that I would not be going into the detail of individual regulations or the specifics of the guidance, but creating a framework that would enable others then to do that”.

She said she welcomed the government’s announcement made in light of the review of a consultation on a ban, which she said was “complementary” to her review.

However, she has raised concerns about a ban. She told MPs “We already have clear statements about what can and cannot be done that we know people are navigating their way around, so simply banning something from happening is no guarantee of compliance [...] if people attach too much reliance upon banning activities and particular materials as being a solution to this problem it will create a false sense of security unless we put a robust system around that.”   

The terms of reference for the review stated its purpose was to “make recommendations that will ensure we have a sufficiently robust regulatory system for the future and to provide further assurance to residents that the complete system is working to ensure the buildings they live in are safe and remain so.” The review was announced following the results of the first large scale tests of different cladding systems—this found the first system tested had failed the tests set out in building regulations. The government said the review would ensure “we can swiftly make any necessary improvements”.

The government has said that the cladding believed to have been used on Grenfell Tower was unlawful under existing building regulations.

The review is separate to the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.


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