Governments making council budget cuts for 40 years as well as reducing regulation have caused a "much greater risk" to people, according to Ken Livingstone.
The government has said that 60 high-rise buildings in 25 local authority areas have failed fire cladding safety tests, after the Grenfell Tower fire prompted concerns.
The former London mayor told Paul Ross: "The simple fact is for nearly 40 years we’ve had governments that reduce regulation and cut back on council budgets. You had Thatcher saying regulations are holding back business, Blair carried on with that, Cameron carried on with that.
"We’ve got to find out - given virtually every tower block, it seems, has got this cladding that's a fire risk - was it ruled to be right to use it or have the firms that put it up just gone for the cheaper variety just to save a bit of money?"
He added that during construction that took place in London before for the 2012 Olympic Games, "not a single worker died because, from the moment we won the right to put the Olympics on, we planned to have it built properly.
"That’s because we had the staff checking it the whole way through."
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