May 16, 2018 / 4:55 PM / 3 months ago

UK pledges 400 million pounds to remove cladding after tower fire

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s government promised on Wednesday to spend 400 million pounds ($540 million) to replace unsafe cladding on high-rise public housing blocks after a fire that killed 71 people in a London skyscraper last year.

Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey tower block in West London, was clad in plastic-filled aluminium panels which proved to be flammable when a fire broke out in an apartment in June last year and spread quickly.

“People must always feel safe in their own home,” housing minister James Brokenshire said in a statement.

He said the money would remove uncertainty about how local authorities and housing associations would get the funding they needed to carry out the removal and replacement of cladding.

The causes of the Grenfell Tower fire are the subject of an inquiry which is due to start public hearings next month. A separate police investigation is under way which could result in criminal charges.

Prime Minister Theresa May was criticised for her initial response to the disaster when she did not immediately meet representatives of the local community. Last week she agreed to calls from survivors of the fire to broaden the inquiry panel to represent the diversity of the community.

Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Stephen Addison

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