MINISTERS have spent less than £250,000 on dealing with 'dangerous' cladding across Scotland five years after the Grenfell tragedy as concerns surface that new code of practice means it will not be replaced, it has been revealed.

The worries have been raised after relatives of those who lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire mourned their losses on the fifth anniversary on Tuesday.

It has been confirmed that as of the end of May, just £241,000 of a £97.1m cladding fund provided to the Scottish Government has been spent in the wake of the horrifc blaze in which 72 residents lost their lives.

HeraldScotland:

Photos of 72 of the confirmed victims who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.

It comes as concerns have been raised that cladding will not be replaced as new guidance accepted by ministers deems it "risk neutral".

The resident-led End Our Cladding Scandal campaign set up in the wake of Grenfell said the development was "deeply concerning".

More than 400 mainly public buildings in Scotland including high-rises and schools have the potentially deadly material Around one in eight blocks of flats, mainly overseen by local authorities, and one in 10 local authority schools have the combustible material.

Thousands more flat-owners in Scotland are also estimated to have had their privately owned homes rendered worthless because they are wrapped in flammable materials.

The Scottish Government has confirmed that the total cost of assessment and remediation is estimated at around £1bn.

So far it has received £97.1m in Barnett consequentials following the UK Government’s announcement in March 2020 to remediate non-ACM cladding systems on residential buildings 18 metres and over.

It was being used to fund free single building assessments. They were still seeking clarity on any additional funds.

But so far just £241,280 has been spent on the assessments, with £114,282 in the Glasgow local authority area, £109,298 in the City of Edinburgh and £17,700 in Aberdeen City.

The Scottish Tenants Organisation has written to the housing secretary Shona Robison demanding that a start is made to remove the cladding saying it is a "disgrace that so little of this money has been spent so far to ensure the safety of people in Scotland."

And an End Our Cladding Scandal spokesman said: “The single building assessment scheme began last August, so it is deeply concerning that progress has been so slow leaving thousands of Scottish residents trapped in limbo not knowing if their homes are safe.

"The meagre sums spent so far mean only a fraction of those buildings applying for the assessment will have been surveyed and it is shocking that none have yet received a completed report.

"Holyrood appears to be competing with Westminster for which government can operate at the slowest pace in dealing with this crisis with both talking tough on making developers pay but with action on the ground continuing to fail to match this rhetoric.

"This is a dereliction of their duty to protect the lives of their citizens.”

A total of 25 buildings deemed most at risk were identified by ministers last year as part of an initial pilot scheme to test the single building assessment.

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Concerns have also surfaced over the recently published PAS 9980 code of practice which guides fire risk assessors on how to categorise the risk posed by a building’s external wall. The UK government hopes it will result in more "proportionate" assessments and fewer blocks being branded in need of full remediation.

But the Mineral Wool Insulation Materials Association (MIMA), which represents the manufacturers of non-combustible insulation, has warned that the document’s use of ‘calorific values’ to grade the risk of different cladding panels could allow dangerous materials slip through.

The Scottish Government has said that about 700 high-rise buildings, including privately owned properties and many smaller buildings have cladding that will need to be checked.

A pilot looking assessing the 25 buildings, launched last August, was due to report back this summer.

The assessment involves an external wall appraisal and a fire risk assessment covering the whole building which will take a broader view of fire safety than the cladding system alone, the Scottish Government has said.

In March, last year ministers said that it was "committed to invest all the funding received in consequentials from the UK Government so far to address cladding problems".

The Scottish Government initially told the Herald that it was only considering whether it would adopt the code of practice. But the Herald on Sunday has seen responses over the pilots which show that the Scottish Government is "applying the new PAS 9980 external wall appraisal..."

The STO has raised "real concerns" about its adoption saying that the "PR spin" over resolving the cladding issue "is exactly that, spin" and fears it will lead to dangerous cladding remaining in place.

In a letter to Shona Robison, the housing secretary they said: "The fact that you will use the PAS 9980 code of practice to categorise the risk of external walls of buildings is causing fundamental concern in that in an analysis of this code of practice it was found that using calorific values could allow combustible cladding to be classified as tolerable and allowed to be kept on tower blocks and others buildings.

"In addition there are not enough suitably qualified fire engineers in the UK to be used to make proper assessments of these buildings.

HeraldScotland:

"You need to remove all combustible cladding from all buildings in Scotland and therefore not use the defective PAS 9980 code of practice."

The PAS 9980 code of practice for fire risk replaced a series of advice notes produced since Grenfell, which have been widely blamed for contributing to thousands of blocks with combustible materials on their external walls being denied mortgages.

The guidance lists several ‘calorific values’ to grade the risk of various cladding products with materials, with a calorific value of between three and 35 megajoules (MJ) per kilogram considered “neutral”.

But the MIMA analysis noted that it would be open to an assessor to deem the risk in the use of standard-grade high-pressure laminate (HPL) cladding as tolerable.

At least 95 high rise blocks and nearly 300 other buildings, including 244 schools, nine independent schools, five hospitals, one prison, five hotels and seven care homes were found to contain high pressure laminate (HPL) panels which safety experts have raised serious concerns in the latest official Scottish Government detailed snapshot survey carried out last year.

Further analysis of local authority high rises carried out last year seen by the Herald on Sunday also shows that a further 23 of Scotland's 774 high rise buildings reported polyethylene type ACM panels (ACM-PE), another combustible material, similar to that found at Grenfell. An identical number were found the previous year.

A further 15 buildings with ACM panels reported "limited combustibility".

It is understood that as of November, work was underway to deal with 11 high rises with ACM-PE (category 3) material. This was expected to improve the safety of 321 flats. The work will take around two years to complete.

There are said to be nearly 47,000 flats in high rise buildings mainly overseen by local authorities across Scotland - nearly half were built in the 1960s.

Sean Clerkin, campaign co-ordinator for the Scottish Tenants Organisation added: "The Scottish Government has to put life safety ahead of financial cost and remove all combustible HPL and polyethylene ACM cladding from tower blocks in Scotland which are mainly occupied by tenants in the public sector, schools, care homes hotels and hospitals and by so doing avoid a Grenfell disaster in Scotland.

"The time is now to take decisive action ensuring the safety of all our citizens in Scotland."

Researchers from the Imperial College London and Warsaw’s Building Research Institute in 2019 found that HPL cladding failed fire safety tests 80 per cent of the time, while the category of cladding similar to that blamed for the rapid spread of the catastrophic fire at Grenfell failed 60 per cent of the time.

The two types of cladding were the most flammable categories assessed by researchers in was then the most comprehensive study to date.

HPL panels are typically made from wood or paper fibre layered with resin and bonded under heat and pressure.

There have been significant fires involving HPL cladding.

HPL window panels were used on Lakanal House, a building in south London where six residents died in a fire in 2009.

A block of flats designed for students in Bolton which was destroyed by a devastating fire in 2019 and led to a mass-evacuation was clad with HPL panels, according to planning documents.

MIMA’s executive director Sarah Kostense-Winterton said: "We urgently need to address building safety and to do that, safety assessments have to be trusted by the insurance industry, mortgage providers and most importantly building occupants. We're not confident that the new PAS 9980 methodology will deliver this.

"Firstly, calorific values are not the best way of measuring the safety of external wall materials, and the fact materials with the calorific value of coal are deemed a medium risk by the PAS clearly illustrates that challenge."

Housing secretary Shona Robison said: “We are taking priority action to prevent another such tragedy occurring.

“We have agreed with some of the country’s largest housing developers to work together to address cladding issues as part of our new Scottish Safer Buildings Accord, giving affected homeowners a clear path to ensuring their homes are safe. Formal principles for the Accord are to be agreed shortly.

“The assessment programme is from 26 buildings to over 100 high-rise towers in total, with a new streamlined process for commissioning the free assessments to help identify at-risk buildings more quickly.”