We will never forget the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, in which 72 people tragically lost their lives. It could have been prevented if the highly flammable cladding on the housing blocks had been replaced by something more suitable. In the aftermath it was clear that many other high-rises across the UK were also made of the same cladding and were at the same high risk of fire, and that they needed to be replaced to ensure safety. Building owners began to try and push remediation costs onto residents however the government has now stepped in.
The UK government has just made an announcement by which homebuilders must agree to pay for the replacement of cladding on mid-rise blocks that may be unsafe as it was in Grenfell Tower, to prevent any future fires and life endangerment.
Michael Gove the UK housing secretary has written a letter to builders addressing the entire ‘residential developer industry’ encouraging them to register with a funding plan to fix any dangerous cladding on blocks between 11 and 18 metres in height. He has given a deadline of March after which there will be government sanctions as repercussions. Leaseholders will need to pay an estimated £4 billion to remediate existing cladding issues on mid-rise blocks, but this is a cost which may save lives. In his statement Gove said, “no leaseholder living in a building above 11 metres will ever face any costs for fixing dangerous cladding.”
In addition, an extra £5.1 billion from public money will contribute towards the cost of replacing potentially flammable cladding which has only recently been allocated. This comes after leaseholders had previously been promised loans by the government for any blocks under 18 meters high. The idea of this loan scheme has been abandoned by the government, in favour of creating building industry funding for the blocks which fall into this category. The height of which is roughly 4-6 storeys tall (under 18 meters).
Gove said he is serious about this issue and that if the industry does not find the money to pay for this necessary work, the government will seek legislation to make the builders pay. Gove said, “I am sure you are as committed as I am to fixing a broken system” wrote Gove. “I want to work with you to deliver the programme I have set out, but I must be clear, I am prepared to take all steps necessary to make this happen, including restricting access to government funding and future procurements, the use of planning powers, the pursuit of companies through the courts and – if the industry fails to take responsibility in the way that I have set out – the imposition of a solution in law if needs be”.
Also, in the letter Gove said that housebuilder must agree to a, “clear, fully-funded plan of action” by early March, otherwise they will be cut out of public contracts and funding, planning permissions and even pursued through the courts.
Companies that make over £10 million worth of profits from housebuilding annually are expected to contribute towards the fund says the government but are currently in talks with housebuilders.
MPs were also informed of up-and-coming amendment proposals to the Building Safety Bill, which will protect leaseholders from the cost of fixing non-cladding safety defects.