Suspended NI executive acting to remove dangerous cladding while SNP government ‘dither’

Thursday 10 August 2023 

By Bill Heaney

The Scottish government must “get their act together” on removing dangerous cladding from buildings, after it emerged Northern Ireland is making strides on the issue despite not having had a functioning executive for more than 18 months.

The perceived Protestants refuse to talk with the perceived Catholics there.

Recent figures showed that less than £2 million has been spent so far on rectifying unsafe material on tower blocks in Scotland – even though the UK government have provided more than £97 million for remedial work in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London.

Scottish Conservative shadow housing minister Miles Briggs, right, has spoken out again on ministers’ “pitifully slow progress” after learning that the equivalent scheme in Northern Ireland is up and running and inviting funding applications.

Mr Briggs said it was “absolutely damning” that, despite the UK Government having provided the funding to SNP ministers in 2021-22, they were in danger of being overtaken by Northern Ireland, where there is no effective political administration.

Miles Briggs MSP said: “It’s absolutely damning that Northern Ireland, which hasn’t had a functioning executive since February 2022, is showing more urgency than the SNP government in tackling dangerous cladding.

“The UK government has provided more than £97 million for this crucial work, yet the Nationalists have spent less than £2 million of it to ensure that Scottish buildings are made safe. That’s pitifully slow progress. This dithering must stop.

“The highly combustible material that contributed to the Grenfell Tower tragedy has now been banned. Yet residents in Scotland’s tower blocks are still waiting.

“They deserve to know that this problem has been tackled. The resources have been made available, so ministers to need to get their act together and deliver.”

The UK Government has provided £97 million to assess and remove dangerous cladding from buildings in Scotland. In 2021-22, the UK Government provided the SNP Government with £97.1 million in Barnett consequentials, to remove highly combustible and thus dangerous cladding from buildings.  A further £300 million is also expected to be provided for this purpose. (The Scottish Government, 12 May 2022, link).

Less than £2 million has been spent to assess and remove dangerous cladding from Scottish buildings. The SNP Government’s Single Building Assessments (SBAs) were introduced in March 2021 with the goal of identifying and removing highly combustible cladding in multi occupancy residential buildings. As of the end of the fiscal year 2022-23, only £1,826,610.51 had been spent for this purpose. (The Scottish Government, 26 May 2023, link).

Top of page picture: High flats such as these now demolished homes in Bellsmyre, Dumbarton, are at the centre of the row over dangerous cladding.

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