Boss says “all manufacturers stand behind their products” as row shows no sign of being resolved

Manufacturers of cladding products refusing to pay up for fixing building safety defects are ‘sticking to their guns’ despite threats of legal action by the government, the chief executive of the Construction Products Association (CPA) has said.

Peter Caplehorn said firms were not backing down following Michael Gove’s letter last month in which the housing secretary promised to “do whatever it takes” to make sure manufacturers of building materials are held to account for the cladding crisis.

Gove’s letter followed a breakdown of talks between the government and the CPA over “voluntary” financial contributions from the products sector towards the cost of remediating unsafe buildings.

Responding to Gove, Caplehorn said that the CPA wanted any funding settlement to include other sectors as “poor design, procurement and construction” could lead to the performance of ‘safe’ materials being “radically” changed.

Products firms are now bracing for further action from Gove, who has said he will use powers established in the new Building Safety Bill to ensure “significant commercial and reputational consequences” for those who have not “stepped up”.

But asked if firms were sticking to their guns, Caplehorn told Building: “I believe they are.”

He added: “The common view is that all manufacturers stand behind their products. The point that we have made many times is that the journey from a product manufacturer to a product being installed in a building is a complex one, which involves many other people and many other decisions.”

Caplehorn admitted there was now a “real fear” that the row could escalate, adding: “We can see that those potential problems are lurking, and while that’s happening we’re not getting dwellings made safe and not taking bills away from people who’ve currently got them. It’s all a real gordian knot I’m afraid.”

One SME manufacturer of cladding panels told Building that responsibility for the cladding crisis was “nothing to do with us” but that the government was “tarring everyone with the same brush”.

Insulation giant Kingspan, whose combustible K15 insulation was the market leader for high rise projects in the years before the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, has said it will contribute to a funding settlement as long as it is “applied across the entire construction industry”.

The firm, which last week posted a record 47% revenue increase in the first quarter, has also said that it will pay its share of remediation “where [it has] responsibility” for the inappropriate use of its products and their “safe retention cannot be supported by testing”.

Gove’s threats to products manufacturers follows a pledge by nearly 40 housebuilders to pay up to fix fire safety issues on blocks which they have had a role in developing.

This is on top of a £3bn levy for blocks where those responsible for the defects cannot be identified or compelled to rectify them.

But a report by the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities select committee last month on approaches to funding remediation works said that the “whole industry must take collective responsibility”.

The executive chair of the Home Builders Federation Stewart Basely has also argued that other parts of the construction industry aside from housebuilders should share the costs for fixing unsafe buildings.