Government minister Michael Gove has admitted that ‘faulty and ambiguous’ government guidance was partly to blame for the Grenfell fire , the comment coming more than five years after the fire that killed 72 people. The UK housing secretary admitted to the Sunday Times that lax regulation had allowed for the firms to place individuals ‘in danger in order to make a profit’.
He added that he believes “[guidance] was so faulty and ambiguous that it allowed unscrupulous people to explore a broken system in a way that led to tragedy.” This sentiment expressed by Gove reflects an acceptance of assertions that the fire was an instance of “a human rights disaster, a systemic failure of state and private actors to protect the life, security and dignity of people.”, as Danny Friedman KC claimed previously.
Crucially, Gove also expects the along-waited Grenfell Tower Inquiry, which is due to publish its findings later this year, to attribute blame on the Govement for allowing housing regulations that allowed homes to be clad in dangerous materials. Mr Gove claims that he “The inquiry, I think, will allocate responsibility appropriately… There are sins of omission and sins of commission.”
Martin Seaward KC, representing the Fire Brigades Union, has claimed that the policy of austerity had played a role in the disaster, describing the financial cuts to the fire service as having “directly impacted” the disaster, which ended up “disproportionately [killing] people with disabilities, those of [..] migrant background, and those living in social housing”, as explained by Mr. Friedman KC.
Today, Gove’s department of levelling up, housing and communities will issue a new contract to developers, ordering them to pledge within six weeks to fix unsafe cladding, or face being banned from building new homes.
Mr Gove also announced plans to abolish the ‘outdated, feudal’ leasehold system of home ownership by the end of this parliamentary season. Responding to this, Gove told Sky News “The fundamental thing is that leasehold is an unfair form of property ownership.”