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Gove letter blasts cladding and insulation manufacturers

Michael Gove (Dreamstime/Kubajunek)

Housing secretary Michael Gove has written to cladding and insulation manufacturers, demanding that they contribute to the cost of remediating unsafe buildings.

The news came as the government announced that over 35 of the UK’s biggest housebuilders have joined a building safety pledge. Under the terms of the deal, developers will fix all buildings of 11m or more in height where they had involvement in its construction over the past 30 years. The deal will be made legally enforcecable.

The industry will contribute an estimated £2bn to remediation buildings. And the government will commit another £3bn through an expansion of the Building Safety Levy.

Cladding and insulation firms criticised

But the government criticised the response of cladding and insulation manufacturers. It claimed they “are yet to accept their share of responsibility and come forward with a proposal”.

As a result, Gove has written to the Construction Products Association (CPA) and warned he will “do whatever it takes to hold cladding and insulation manufacturers to account”.

‘Negotiations have concluded’

In the letter, Gove said: “Unlike the approach taken by developers, manufacturers have failed to make any such commitment. This is simply not good enough.”

And he added: “It is unacceptable that there has been no clear acknowledgement that actions taken by cladding and insulation manufacturers have contributed to the problem, and that manufacturers have individually and collectively failed to come forward with a proposal for playing their part in addressing it. As such, I now consider our negotiations to have concluded.

“I have instructed my officials to do whatever it takes to make sure that construction product manufacturers are held to account through the powers that I am establishing in the Building Safety Bill. My new recovery unit will pursue firms that have failed to do the right thing, including through the courts."

The CPA’s response

In a lengthy response to Gove’s criticism the CPA said it had been "heavily engaging" with members and companies in the cladding insulation sector.

It said it had a "sincere desire" to answer Gove’s request for the sector to contribute to a cladding remediation fund.

But it said: "It has not been possible to gain widespread support to enable the industry to sign up for a voluntary funding scheme."

It warned: "There are many unknowns even at this stage, many highlighted by the recent Select Committee report. The number of dwellings affected is unknown thereby the level of work for each is unknown."

Concerns over quality of evidence

The CPA suggested that it was simpler for developers to find which buildings they were connected to because they sit at the end of a long supply chain. That made the process "more manageable" for developers than cladding and insulation firms, it argued.

The CPA added: "In addition, product manufacturers will be involved in the developer’s remediation programme as they call on their supply chain.

"Though product manufacturers remain concerned about the quality of evidence showing unsafe situations, they are also concerned over the lack of detail and focus on ensuring remediation is addressed where it is needed.

"Several companies have come forward to assist in the remediation process. It has also been acknowledged by several product manufacturers that where products they have produced are found to be at fault, they will replace them at their own cost.