Communities secretary Sajid Javid planning further testing for cladding

The number of tower blocks where cladding samples have failed fire tests has climbed to 224, communities secretary Sajid Javid has said.

The safety testing has been carried out on high rise residential buildings across the UK, in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy.

Javid told ITV: “224 buildings have failed the test and the immediate priority is to make sure when a sample is sent in for testing, and if it does fail that initial test, to inform the local fire and rescue service and make sure they are doing everything they need to ensure residents in those buildings are safe.”

He added that “what will ultimately make those buildings safe is to determine whether that cladding needs to come down or not”.

Asked when this would be, Javid said that while all the cladding samples tested so far were failing the initial building regulation guidelines, a “whole system test” would be applied, which tested the entire cladding panel, not just the core.

“We are now independently having those tests done on a separate set of panels and different types of insulation,” he said, but admitted no tests had been completed so far.

Javid said he did not have “all the answers yet”, after being asked how cladding with a flammable core, non-compliant on buildings over 18 metres tall, had come to be used so widely on tower blocks in the UK.

“I think after this emergency process of testing and securing those buildings, these are the kind of questions that need to be asked and answered,” the communities secretary said. “Is it about the building regulations? Is it about the enforcement of those building regulations? I wouldn’t want to rush to a judgement on that but clearly it would need to be looked at properly.”