A REVIEW into the Grenfell Tower inferno has stopped short of recommending a ban on flammable cladding because it will "not address the root causes" of the problems in building regulations.

Dame Judith Hackitt found that indifference and ignorance had led a "race to the bottom" in building safety practices with cost prioritised over safety.

Setting out a series of proposals to make high-rise flats safer to live in in the wake of the disaster on June 14 last year, she said there was a "systemic problem" and recommended the creation of a new regulator.

Some building firms use the ambiguity around the rules to "game the system", with the primary motivation to "do things as quickly and cheaply as possible" rather than focusing on quality, Dame Judith said.

She also found ignorance about the rules, a lack of clarity about who takes responsibility and inadequate oversight.

"The above issues have helped to create a cultural issue across the sector, which can be described as a 'race to the bottom' caused either through indifference, or because the system does not facilitate good practice," she said.

Cladding fuelled the spread of the fire that killed 71 people in the west London block and a subsequent safety operation identified hundreds more buildings with similar set ups.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) called for a ban on flammable cladding, a requirement for sprinklers to be fitted and a second means of escape for high-rise residential buildings.

But Dame Judith said prohibited certain practices would "not address the root causes" of the problems.

She added: "The debate continues to run about whether or not aluminium cladding is used for thermal insulation, weather-proofing or an an internal part of the fabric, fire safety and integrity of the building.

"This illustrates the siloed thinking that is part of the problem we must address."

The review recommended:

  • An "outcomes-based approach" to the regulatory approach to be overseen by a new regulator.
  • Clearer roles and responsibilities throughout the design and construction process, as well as during a building's occupation.
  • Residents to be consulted over decisions affecting the safety of their home.
  • A more rigorous and transparent product testing regime.
  • Industry to lead strengthening competence of those involved in building work and to establish an oversight body.

Dame Judith also stopped short of banning so-called "desktop studies" - assessments that can be used to approve cladding without carrying out physical fire safety tests.

Her report said: "The proposed change does not ban assessments in lieu of tests, as there are some products and systems for which a full-scale physical test is not possible, but it will significantly reduce their use and ensure that those which are carried out are conducted rigorously and properly recorded for further scrutiny."

Labour MP and Grenfell campaigner David Lammy branded the review "a betrayal and a whitewash".

Mr Lammy said: "It is unthinkable and unacceptable that so many people can die in a disaster like Grenfell and one year on flammable cladding has not been banned.

"I will continue to stand with the Grenfell families and will continue to call for an outright ban on any combustible materials.

"The Grenfell families and the public needed a review that was fearless in standing up to the industry on behalf of all those who lost their lives in Grenfell with recommendations that ensure that an atrocity like Grenfell can never happen again.

"I simply fail to see how it is deemed appropriate for any combustible material to be used on any tower block in this country and I find it unfathomable that this review has not recommended an outright ban on the use of combustible material."

Shahin Sadafi, chairman of Grenfell United, said: "Worrying that a fire like Grenfell could happen again is something that keeps many of us awake at night.

"When we met Dame Judith Hackitt we asked her for an outright ban on combustible cladding. We are disappointed and saddened that she didn't listen to us and she didn't listen to other experts. The cladding on the Grenfell Tower was deemed to be limited combustibility, but it cost 72 lives. It must be banned.

"We need to hear from government a clear promise that these dangerous materials will never be used on homes again.

"This isn't just about cladding - the whole system of building regulation is broken. The industry has too much influence over regulation and testing, desk-top studies are totally flawed, profit is valued more than people's safety, and residents are left powerless. All of this must change.

"This report is a start but we've had recommendations before, after the Lakanal House fire and they were ignored - so we're asking Dame Judith Hackitt to finish the job she has started and make sure this report leads to a serious culture change across the industry.

"Grenfell United will keep fighting until everyone is safe in their homes."

The chairman of the Local Government Association, Lord Porter, said: "It is good that Dame Judith's report agrees that the current system is not fit for purpose and has set out a range of recommendations for its long-term reform.

"However, our immediate priority is to ensure that a fire like that at Grenfell never happens again, and to make certain the buildings which people live, visit and work in are safe today.

"It is therefore disappointing that Dame Judith has stopped short of recommending a ban on combustible materials and the use of desktop studies, both essential measures to improve safety.

"The Government should nevertheless act without delay to introduce a temporary ban on the use of combustible materials on complex and high-rise buildings until we have a regulatory and testing system which is fit for the 21st century."