Cladding from 120 tower blocks from 37 local authority areas across the UK has found to be combustible, Theresa May told MPs on Wednesday 28 June. The prime minister's announcement comes in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in west London, which has left at least 79 people dead and many more homeless on 14 June.
The government has urged councils to submit samples of cladding from high-rises as the Metropolitan Police investigative the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
"As of this morning, the cladding from 120 tower blocks across the country in 37 local authority areas have been tested and have failed the combustibility test," May said.
"Given the 100% failure rate, we are very clear with local authorities and housing associations – they should not wait for test results, they should get on with the job of the fire safety checks and, indeed, they are doing that. And they should take any action necessary and the government will support them in doing that."
The comments came during the first prime minister's questions (PMQs) of the new parliament, with an emboldened Jeremy Corbyn, who secured 30 extra seats for Labour blaming the Grenfell on the "disastrous effects" of austerity.
"When you cut local authority budgets by 40% we all pay a price in public safety. Fewer inspectors, fewer building control inspectors, fewer planning inspectors – we all pay a price. And those cut to the fire service mean there are 11,000 fewer firefighters," he said. "This disaster must be a wake-up call."
May hit back at Corbyn, pointing out that cladding on tower blocks was rolled out under Tony Blair's New Labour government.
"The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government. It did not start under the previous coalition government. The cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government," she said. "[He] talks about local authorities resources and talks about changes to the legislation. In 2005, it was a Labour government that introduced the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order, which changed the requirement to inspect a building on fire safety from the local authority to a responsible person."
May added: "This should be an issue that across this house we recognise is matter that has been developing over decades, is a matter that has occurred under governments of both colours, under councils of all political persuasions and is something which I would hope we should say we will come together and ensure we get to the answers of why this has happened."