It's been two years since the Grenfell tower block in north Kensington burned, killing at least 72 people: the blaze revealed deep corruption and indifference among Britain's richest people and the millionaire Conservative politicians who do their business in Parliament, from the fact that the highly flammable cladding responsible for the blaze was added so that the building would be more attractive to rich people in nearby luxury tower blocks, to the fact that the fire came five years after Tory PM David Cameron declared war on "safety culture" to the fact that Tory politicians (overwhelming landlords themselves) had voted down a bill to require landlords to ensure that the properties they rented were safe and "fit for human habitation", to the fact that local Tory councillors had deliberately chosen a more fire-prone cladding to save 5.7% on the cost of materials — the same local government that forced Grenfell survivors to bid against each other for new homes and then paid the same company that installed the flammable cladding to replace it.
We may never know exactly how many other towers are at risk: the Tories say that "IP rights" prevent them from disclosing which blocks failed their housing safety tests, and refuse to disclose which towers are clad in the same materials in Grenfell because otherwise, the terrorists will win (no, seriously).
Meanwhile, the companies involved have paid no meaningful consequences for their role in the Grenfell deaths: Rydon, the contractor had a banner year and handed out whopping pay rises for its execs, and the company that made the cladding continues to insist that the problem could have been solved with a kitchen fire-extinguisher.
People who live in dangerous housing have been in limbo for two years, with no end in sight. After the Tories refused to promise to help (a statement that resulted in Theresa May mobbed by protestors), residents found themselves paying millions to safeguard their homes.
Now, two years later, there are still 24,800 homes clad in the same dangerous materials that made Grenfell a firetrap — 16,400 of them privately owned, 8,400 are social housing — with an estimated 60,000 people living in them. In addition, an untold number of homes are at risk from different cladding materials (the government has yet to completely enumerate a list of unsafe materials that are in use). Only last month, the Tory government allocated £200m to remove cladding from private blocks, in addition to a fund for public blocks.
Ms Jones said ministers should now agree to fund the removal of other types of cladding that could be just as flammable. The government began testing non-ACM cladding last month but has been criticised for opting for a less comprehensive type of test than the one that was applied to ACM panels in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.
She also called for building owners who refuse to take down cladding that has failed safety tests to face tougher punishments.
60,000 people still live in high-rise buildings covered in flammable material used on Grenfell Tower [Benjamin Kentish/The Independent]
(via Naked Capitalism)