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Urgent Action Required: 1,911 Social Housing Blocks in England Plagued by 'Life-Critical' Cladding Issues

Nearly 2,000 social housing blocks in England face severe fire safety issues, with slow progress on remediation efforts since the Grenfell Tower disaster.

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Emmanuel Abara Benson
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Urgent Action Required: 1,911 Social Housing Blocks in England Plagued by 'Life-Critical' Cladding Issues

Urgent Action Required: 1,911 Social Housing Blocks in England Plagued by 'Life-Critical' Cladding Issues

Nearly 2,000 social housing blocks across England are grappling with severe fire safety concerns due to problematic external cladding, a situation spotlighted by recent government data. This revelation underscores a broader building safety crisis, a dire legacy of the Grenfell Tower disaster that claimed 72 lives in June 2017.

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Despite the urgent need for remediation, progress has been slow, with a significant number of buildings yet to see safety improvements.

Unveiling the Scale of the Crisis

Out of 16,776 buildings assessed, 1,911 have been identified with 'life-critical fire safety defects', marking more than one in every ten buildings as hazardous. The flammable cladding, similar to that which exacerbated the Grenfell Tower fire, is the primary concern. This data not only highlights the extent of the safety issues but also the slow pace of remediation efforts, with only 9% of the problematic buildings having completed safety works.

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Challenges in Addressing the Safety Issues

Experts and campaigners express dismay at the slow progress in addressing these critical safety issues. The focus has primarily been on high-rise buildings, neglecting the equally pressing need to investigate and rectify issues in smaller structures. The backlog in remediation efforts is staggering, with predictions that it may take until 2028 before the majority of the identified buildings are made safe. This delay leaves thousands of residents in a perilous limbo, uncertain of their safety.

Government and Industry Response

In response to the mounting crisis, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities has emphasized the introduction of stringent building safety regulations through the landmark Building Safety Act. Billions of pounds have been allocated to safety schemes aimed at rectifying unsafe cladding issues. However, with a significant proportion of buildings either awaiting the start of work or without any plans for remediation, the effectiveness of these measures and the commitment to expedite the necessary works are under scrutiny.

The revelations from the government's data serve as a stark reminder of the lingering impacts of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the imperative to ensure the safety of residents living in social housing. With a long road ahead to rectify these 'life-critical' issues, the focus must remain on accelerating efforts to make all buildings safe and habitable, lest history repeat itself.

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