Grenfell Latest Inquiry Update
10th July 2023
It has been revealed that the Grenfell Tower Inquiry will not publish its final report on the disaster until next year. This is disappointing as the inquiry team had previously expressed hopes of publishing the report towards the end of this year.
In its statement, the inquiry team said that drafting of the Phase 2 report continues, with each chapter of the report at a different stage of drafting but with some now nearing completion. As report drafting approaches completion, the Chairman is now required under rule 13 of the Inquiry Rules to write to those subject to criticism in the report to allow them reasonable time to respond to the criticisms made against them. We understand that process, although entirely confidential, has now begun, with letters understood to be sent out in July.
Meanwhile the Government has granted itself a new power to replace the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as the regulator for high-rise residential buildings with a new body, should the Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommend even more sweeping reform.
The amendment came as a surprise to the industry and may indicate that HSE themselves will be subject to criticism by the Inquiry. This could signpost even wider reform to building safety regulation than first thought, and may change the definition of in-scope buildings and the way building regulatory functions are currently spread across multiple regulators and arms-length bodies.
The Government, however, is understood to have confirmed that it has “every confidence” in the HSE to deliver the new regime and expects it to be fully operational by April next year. This despite just 750 of the 12,000 high-rise residential buildings in England having so far been registered since the scheme was launched in April, and with just a few months remaining before registration closes in October.
In other news, the civil claim against 22 companies/organisations involved in the design, construction or maintenance of Grenfell Tower, has apparently been settled with a global sum of about £150 million compensation agreed. Amongst the firms facing legal action are Rydon Maintenance Limited, insulation providers Kingspan and Celotex, architect Studio E, cladding subcontractor Harley Facades and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Rydon Maintenance Limited confirmed in recent weeks that it has made a provision of £26.7M in its accounts for its share of this settlement. In a supporting statement Rydon admitted that:
“Along with many other contractors and developers, Rydon used products in its partial refurbishment of the [Grenfell Tower] which were marketed widely by manufacturers. It is now apparent the manufacturers circumvented fire regulations to assist in the marketing of their products and the certification process was very weak.”
On that subject, it is understood that the Building Research Establishment (BRE) have recently discontinued their relationship with the Kingspan Group due to the perceived ‘reputational risk’ to the BRE.
In a statement to Inside Housing, the BRE – which is a leading building science institute and provides testing against official standards for a wide variety of construction materials firms – said it would no longer accept work from the firm “following evidence heard during the course of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry”.
It said it was also refusing to take work from Celotex, which also made insulation ultimately used on Grenfell Tower.
Check back regularly for further updates on Grenfell Tower and the Building Safety Act.
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