Fireproof cladding which could have prevented the Grenfell Tower disaster, which has left at least 30 people dead, would have cost just £5,000 to install, it has been claimed.
The building was covered in panels with a plastic core costing £22 per square metre – just £2 cheaper than the fire-resistant version – when it was refurbished last year.
Witnesses say the building’s cladding caught fire ‘like a matchstick’.
The refit of the property cost a total of £8.6 million.
Aluminium coated panels, known as Reynobond, were fitted to the outside of the west London high-rise.
These panels are banned in the US over fire safety fears, and it is also claimed there are restrictions on its use in Germany.
The panels are said to come in three versions, with the cheapest type apparently used in Grenfell Tower.
The two more expensive versions are fitted with non-combustable cores, whereas the standard version is not.
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The death toll for Wednesday’s disaster now officially stand at at least 30.
Police on Friday revised upwards the figure from 17. It is expected to rise significantly with some claims that the final figure will be more than 100 people.
Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake said the use of the plastic panels was “utterly unacceptable”.
He said: “It is simply beyond belief to think that if just £5,000 more had been spent, these tragic deaths could have been prevented.
“The government must urgently bring UK fire safety standards into line with those abroad. It seems people’s homes were turned into death traps because they were fitted on the cheap.”
A US expert told The Times that the panels with a polythene centre were banned there for safety reasons on buildings which are taller than 40 feet.
Instead it is used for just low-rise commercial buildings.
Labour MP David Lammy, who may have lost a friend in the tragedy, called the blaze “corporate manslaughter”.
Grenfell Tower was refurbished with the cladding last year by an East Sussex-based company, Harley Facades Limited, and ordered by contractor Rydon.
Several other high-rise blocks in London have been fitted with the same cladding, including four towers in Camden, north London.