Grenfell Tower fire – recent developments

Update on the latest test results, the public inquiry and how members can get involved in the work on the immediate and longer-term implications.

17 August 2017

Public inquiry into Grenfell Tower fire

On Tuesday, Sir Martin Moore-Bick announced the terms of reference for the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire, which include:

  • the cause and spread of the fire
  • the design, construction and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower
  • the scope and adequacy of the relevant regulations relating to high-rise buildings
  • whether the relevant legislation and guidance were complied with in the case of Grenfell Tower
  • the actions of the local authority and other bodies before the tragedy
  • the response of the London Fire Brigade to the fire and the response of central and local government in the aftermath.

Having called for the inquiry to conduct a thorough review of current regulations on housebuilding and fire safety, we are pleased that this is within its scope and hope it will issue robust recommendations to restore trust in regulatory procedures so that housing providers can ensure residents are safe in their homes. We have offered the full support of the Federation and social housing sector and will update members on our approach to the inquiry and how they can feed in, once further details of the format and timescales are announced.

The inquiry will not cover a broad examination of social housing policy, with Sir Martin reasoning that the inquiry needs to be focused on swiftly learning the essential lessons from Grenfell and that a judge-led inquiry was not the place to address wider social issues. The Prime Minister has accepted these terms, but has been clear that the broader issues will be addressed. We will be picking up the wider conversation about social housing with the Government. You can read transcripts of Sir Martin’s and the Prime Minister’s letters on the Government website.

Cladding systems tests

Over the past week, the Government has released the results of the fourth and fifth cladding systems tests, with both passing the tests. The fourth test was on ACM cladding with fire retardant polyethylene filler with stone wool insulation, and the fifth on ACM cladding with a limited combustibility filler (category 1 in screening tests) with PIR foam insulation. Results of a further two tests are due to be released shortly.

This should provide more clarity for housing associations on what materials are safe, although we are continuing to call on the Government to play a more strategic leadership role on this remedial work, including providing appropriate funding.

Working with members

We are continuing to work with members directly affected, through regular phone calls, email updates and roundtable meetings.

The next roundtables for affected members are:

  • 24 August, 10am to 12pm, National Housing Federation London office
  • 7 September, 2pm to 4pm, National Housing Federation Manchester office

Please email housingsafety@housing.org.uk to book your place.

We are putting together a Cladding Advisory Member Group from affected members who will steer our work and ensure we are providing appropriate support. You can download the draft terms of reference here. If you are interested in joining the group, please let us know by 5 September. The first meeting will take place later in September.

We are also looking at the wider implications for the whole sector. One emerging area is exploring options for a consistent and accessible way for housing associations to communicate safety information to tenants. We are looking to work with interested members and industry experts on this issue – if you would be interested in being part of this activity, please get in touch. We hope to have the first meeting for this work in September.