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MPs fear cladding remediation skills shortage

19 June 2020
MPs fear cladding remediation skills shortage

There may not be enough construction workers with the right skills to complete cladding remediation work on high-rise buildings, the chair of an influential MPs group has warned.

Meg Hillier, the Labour MP who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, was speaking as the National Audit Office released a report into progress on cladding repairs.

The NAO’s report noted slow progress in the private residential sector, with 66.7% of high-rise student accommodation blocks and 46.8% of social housing buildings with ACM cladding unlikely to meet Building Regulations fully remediated as of the end of April 2020, as compared to 13.5% of private sector residential buildings.

The government set aside £400m in May 2018 for remediation of ACM buildings in the social housing sector in England followed by a further £200m for equivalent buildings in the private sector in May 2019. That was followed by the announcement of a £1bn fund in March 2020 for the remediation of unsafe non-ACM high-rise buildings in the social and private residential sectors. The number of unsafe non-ACM buildings over 18m is not yet known but is estimated to be around 1,700.

But Hillier was skeptical of the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) that all buildings within scope of the funding could be remediated by mid-2022. She said: “Three years on from the Grenfell Tower disaster, two thirds of high rise buildings with the same sort of cladding haven’t replaced it. This work should have finished already. 

“The deadlines for removing other dangerous cladding are unrealistic, and there may not be enough people with the right skills to do everything that needs to be done.  

“Developers should be footing the bill for this work, not taxpayers.”

Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: “MHCLG has made progress in overseeing the removal of dangerous cladding from many buildings, particularly in the social housing sector. However, the pace of progress has lagged behind its own expectations, particularly in the private residential sector. It has a long way to go to make all high-rise buildings safe for residents.

“Going forward, it is important that the department successfully manages the administrative challenges of funding building owners to carry out remediation work, particularly given its intention to commit a further £1bn in full by the end of March 2021.”

The NAO’s full report can be viewed here.

Comments

It is a sobering thought that the UK building industry lacks properly trained people to rectify defective work carried out under the current building regulations which are incapable of meeting the government’s commitment on climate change. Once building regulations are introduced to meet our target for net zero carbon we will really have a shortage of people with the required knowledge. Perhaps retraining furloughed people to work in this industry would be useful. Unfortunately I don’t believe politicians have the wit to devote sufficient funds to encourage and train our young people to step up to this challenge!

Alan Chapman, 22 June 2020

last year I completed a project for a Tier 1 contractor, erecting a scaffold, monitoring the activities of the cladding manufacturer and the cladders stripping the external cladding and insulation carrying out the remedial works caused by others. To a major company in the hospitatlity industry, whilst keeping there hotel open and preventing injury to the occupiers, there clients or the general public.
The repairs went well, the remedial works were photographed and recorded at every stage of the remedial works, to demonstrate the works were completed correctly.
I enjoyed carrying out the works and would happily put my knowledge to further use. Currently there must bea lot of trained and competent colleagues seeking work

ANDREW GLENISTER, 22 June 2020

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