After Grenfell, local UK governments pay the developers who chose lethal cladding to replace it


Originally published at:


Disaster capitalism writ (relatively) small.


Or buddy/bribing system at work


I’m not from the UK, but I imagine it’s not much different than Canada in this respect:

Governments are bound by terrible procurement rules. One of the things those rules prevent them from doing is choosing not to do business with unethical companies or even companies that have screwed them in the past. In extreme circumstances companies might be sanctioned, but I’ve personally worked on government contracts (from the government side) that were awarded to companies that were banned from making bids to the IMF because of bribery.

Those rules themselves are just a symptom of an extreme deference towards the private sector that is embedded in our zeitgeist, and that needs to change. But making that change is well above the power of local governments, and I don’t think we should put the blame for this where it belongs.


I think UK is bound by lots of EU regulations for procurement as well, so it’s not even on a national level.

The rules have their uses to prevent some forms of corruption by having formal rules requiring the government to choose the lowest bidder, but then unscrupulous companies just learn to take advantage of those rules and make formally correct bids that are nevertheless very bad.

In Sweden there was a case of a supplier of equipment for hospitals that made a bid promising to deliver 90% of a socks for a lower price than anyone else. The last 10% turned out to cost over a thousand dollars each…


I know how the rules evolved and why. Obviously we don’t want government ministers having the civil service award contracts to their cousins. The problem is that the rules are so much about being “fair” to the vendors, and not very much at all about getting a good outcome for the public.

And, as you say, procurement rules are part of trade agreements and other multi-national agreements, so even federal governments feel they are bound by them and unable to change them. However, unlike local governments that really are forced to comply, federal governments have a responsibility to do something about the problems, even if doing so is difficult.



Remember, when voting…


I suspect that in most cases, it is the local council that decided to use the cheapest, albeit flammable cladding in the first place. Although it would probably be possible to ameliorate some of the danger with different installation, say firestopping at every floor to prevent the chimney effect.


Just for info, in this case it is local (i.e. municipal) government, not national. May not make much difference, but the national government does not own or contract for housing, that’s the role of local government here.


This is an area where I’d take what I say with a grain of salt since the relationship between municipal and national governments is probably very different in the UK than in Canada (where I understand how things work). I feel fairly confident, though, saying that if the national government makes a trade agreement binding how procurement will be done, local governments are going to end up having to implement it.


If you mean “trade agreement” as in ‘must do business with these named people’ then no, does not happen for procurement like this. The main role of Tory national government has always been to find ways to starve local councils of funds, not define who they buy things from. Local councils may well have to adhere to rules that are in place to try to ensure no unfair competition (e.g. inside bribery etc) and these rules are defined by government and EU, broadly. What is surprising to me is that I assume this work was tendered, yet the same ‘winners’ emerge from a competitive tendering process. (Though perhaps having inside knowledge of the work needed, from being the firm that did the original work, lends an advantage.) Anyway, it’s all academic (relationships between local and national govt, what the tendering process is, etc) - the moral scandal is that the same arseholes who specified cheap materials / methods that are part of the root cause, get to profit from doing the work properly this time.

ETA I suppose it is beyond possibility that these firms lowballed their offer/will forego profit out of a sense of moral responsibility and wanting to try to at least in part put right what they did wrong before. Extreme cynicism says their PR dept would have recommended that!


What, like wood?


Not who they buy things from, but how they go about the process of deciding who to buy from to make sure it’s “fair”. If I were involved in a procurement like this, I’d be unable to exclude a company from it on the basis that in the past they were awful, and I’d have to consider their bid through a transparent and auditable process, so they might win.



(Which, even with a full stop is apparently one character short of the prescribed minimum number of characters, thus distracting from an otherwise pithy response. Need to find out how to reduce point size.) ;-(


How hard can it be to write up an indictment for negligent homicide? We’ve all seen what happened, what’s the fucking hold up? And force them to re-do all their shoddy work, free of charge, by threat of nationalization! This is self-defence, plain and simple. Only a society of spineless capitalist boot lickers and corporate shit eaters would fail at that. In the end, most people live under the rule they deserve.


low bid wins, go over budget, take twice as long, do a terrible job that requires massive do-overs at extra expense, rinse and repeat.





In the building sector only if the estimated cost for the project exceeds €5 million.
Below that, national rules apply.


That’ actually a very nice christmas present, thanks!