Councils told to urgently assess how many homes use cladding at centre of Grenfell Tower blaze concerns

 
Mark Sands
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24-Storey Grenfell Tower Block On Fire In West London
The blaze is now estimated to have taken almost 80 lives. (Source: Getty)

The use of controversial cladding material at the heart of an investigation into the Grenfell Tower blaze is being probed further, with local authorities instructed to urgently report back on its deployment.

Every English council and housing association has been given until the end of the day tomorrow to inform ministers how many homes use the material.

Materials used on the building have been at the centre of concerns following the fire, with eyewitnesses reporting that the building was rapidly consumed by flames, with polystyrene-like material breaking off the structure.

Last week, the Times reported that refurbishers had opted for a less fire-resistant cladding.

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In a letter sent to council chiefs and housing association bosses across the country, the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "There has been much public concern and comment about potential flaws in the cladding that was on Grenfell Tower.

"While the exact reasons for the speed of the spread of fire have yet to be determined, we have concluded that there are additional tests that can be undertaken with regard to the cladding. We are therefore asking local authorities and other registered providers of social housing to identify whether any panels used in new build or refurbishment are a particular type of cladding made of Aluminium Composite Material."

It comes as the death toll from the fire continues to rise. The number of people presumed dead following the tragic blaze has now reached 79.