Avatar photo

Freelance journalist

Author Bio ▼

Ron Alalouff is a journalist specialising in the fire and security markets, and a former editor of websites and magazines in the same fields.
April 20, 2023


Lithium-Ion batteries. A guide to the fire risk that isn’t going away but can be managed

Gove encourages investors of cladding companies linked to Grenfell to “use influence” to ensure firms pay for unsafe cladding

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has written no-holds-barred letters to the CEOs and investors of legacy flammable cladding and insulation suppliers to Grenfell, calling on them to ‘pay up’ to fix the building safety crisis.


Michael Gove, Secretary of State for DLUHC

Michael Gove has continued to increase the pressure on construction product manufacturers to contribute to the cost of cladding remediation by writing to the CEOs and investors of  three of them linked to the Grenfell Tower refurbishment, urging them to contribute to funding remediation works or face unspecified “commercial consequences”.

The move follows similar warnings to housing developers who refused to sign up to the Government’s developer remediation contract, where signatories are committed to contributing to fixing unsafe buildings. So far, 46 out of the 50 eligible developers have signed the contract.

“$11 million a year on legal representation for ‘Grenfell-related matters’”

Writing to Arconic’s CEO, Timothy D Myers, Mr Gove said that he had long argued that those who manufactured and sold flammable cladding and insulation products have a “moral and financial obligation” to acknowledge their role in the legacy of unsafe buildings in the UK.

He said the testimony at the Grenfell Tower inquiry uncovered “shameful practices and an abhorrent culture of disregard for the safety of residents in their homes”.

He says he was “appalled” by the inquiry evidence about “the extent that your employees went to, so as to conceal the flammable nature of your products, and to avoid promoting fire-retardant products to customers – because doing so would reduce your profits”.

In his letter, Mr Gove noted that according to its annual report, Arconic spent an average of $11 million a year on legal advice and representation on “Grenfell-related matters” between 2017 and 2022, but had not contributed to any funding towards the costs of fixing dangerous buildings “despite the fact that your flammable products continue to put lives at risk in the United Kingdom today”.

He invites Mr Myers to meet his officials “to explain how you intend to scope, identify and pay for remediation works” as part of a “comprehensive package of financial support from construction product manufacturers”.

Reports indicate Kingspan “willing to pay”

In a similar letter to Kingspan Group’s CEO, Gene M Murtagh, Mr Gove wrote that he was “appalled by the evidence heard by the inquiry of the reckless and deceptive behaviour within your company”.

He welcomed reports that the firm would be willing to pay where cladding products had been inappropriately used on buildings, and he thought the company’s record trading profit of £382.8m would help fund a commitment to a comprehensive package of financial support from Kingspan and other construction product manufacturers.

He concluded both letters by stating: “My department will continue to be driven solely by our commitment to protect people in their homes: people who bought or rented homes in good faith, whose safety continues to be threatened by your products, and who deserve better from the companies who have exploited their basic need for a home. Those companies that do not share our commitment to righting wrongs of the past must expect to face commercial consequences.”

Both Arconic and Kingspan were contacted for a comment but did not respond.

Investors encouraged to use “positions of influence”

On 20 April, Gove followed up on the CEO letters with letters to investors in Kingspan, Arconic and Saint-Gobain, urging them to use their positions of influence to encourage the companies to provide financial assistant in fixing the building safety crisis. They have been encouraged to “engage constructively in helping us reach a just resolution for all concerned.”

Shareholders who received letters include Blackrock, Vanguard, and Fidelity Management and Research, as well as investors like Norges Bank, the central bank of Norway.

The Housing Secretary warned that alongside reputational risk, he may be forced to use “the legal and commercial tools available” to ensure the position of the cladding companies “becomes extremely uncomfortable.”

Mr Gove also said he is considering whether further tools will need to be handed to regulators or the government.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove said: “Today we ask responsible investors to use their influence to encourage these companies to come forward immediately with a comprehensive financial package for remediation work. It cannot be right that cladding companies continue to profit whilst so many innocent, hardworking people face financial hardship and misery.

“To those cladding companies who fail to do the right thing: you will face severe consequences and I will use all commercial and legal tools available to me to ensure you take responsibility.”

Invitation to “engage constructively”

To date, the three construction product manufacturers – who together were responsible for manufacturing the majority of cladding used on the Grenfell Tower, explains the Government – have not contributed any financial support to the cost of fixing buildings in the UK.

Shareholders and manufacturers have been invited to meet officials from DLUHC to discuss how to scope, identify and pay for remediation works.

Independent Review to the testing regime for construction products

DLUHC is also publishing an Independent Review by Paul Morrell and Anneliese Day KC, looking at the current testing regime for construction products.

The report was commissioned in response to evidence heard by the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry about the behaviours of manufacturers and those responsible for advising on the fire-performance of products, including serious failings in the system for testing construction products that involved cladding.

The Department will carefully consider the recommendations of the Independent Review and we will set out proposals for reforms in due course.

This article was originally published on 6 April. It has since been updated by the IFSEC Global editorial team.


2023 Fire Safety eBook – Grab your free copy!

Download the Fire Safety in 2023 eBook, keeping you up to date with the biggest news and prosecution stories from around the industry. Chapters include important updates such as the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 and an overview of the new British Standard for the digital management of fire safety information.

Plus, we explore the growing risks of lithium-ion battery fires and hear from experts in disability evacuation and social housing.


Related Topics

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments