Secretary of State Michael Gove announced on Monday that developers must be the ones to pay for replacing unsafe cladding.
In 2017 the Grenfell Tower block of flats burned down, partly due to unsafe cladding used in the building which allowed the fire to spread more rapidly. 72 people tragically died and more than 70 others were injured in the disaster, with hundreds of people losing their homes and belongings. In the wake of the fire, it was found that hundreds of blocks of flats across the UK had fire safety defects.
A deadline has been given of early March for developers to agree upon a plan of action which is to include replacing unsafe cladding on all buildings between 11 and 18 metres tall.
In a letter to the relevant companies, Gove stated they must:
- Make financial contributions to a dedicated fund to cover the full outstanding cost to remediate unsafe cladding on 11-18 metre buildings, currently estimated to be £4 billion
- Fund and undertake all necessary remediation of buildings over 11 metres that they have played a role in developing
- Provide comprehensive information on all buildings over 11 meters which have historic safety defects and which they have played a part in constructing in the last 30 years
The government has previously promised to replace cladding in buildings taller than 18 metres.
Relevant representatives of the industry, along with Grenfell victims will meet with the government in a roundtable discussion to discuss proposals of how to proceed.
Michael Gove said:
“It is neither fair nor decent that innocent leaseholders, many of whom have worked hard and made sacrifices to get a foot on the housing ladder, should be landed with bills they cannot afford to fix problems they did not cause.”
“Government has accepted its share of responsibility and made significant financial provision through its ACM remediation programme and the Building Safety Fund. Some developers have already done the right thing and funded remedial works and I commend them for those actions.”
“But too many others have failed to live up to their responsibilities.”
Some cladding campaigners have said that, while they welcome the announcement, it does not go far enough, as issues with these buildings extend far beyond just unsafe cladding.
In recent days it has also been announced that Grenfell Tower is to be demolished. Currently the building still partly stands, covered by a white tarpaulin with green hearts.
Update: Speaking on behalf of the Local Government Association, which represent 350 councils across England and Wales, Councillor David Renard said:
“No leaseholder should have to pay the costs of making their homes safe and the Secretary of State’s threat to use the legal system to ensure developers meet their responsibilities to leaseholders is a positive step in the right direction. However, leaseholders are not the only innocent victims of the construction industry’s failure to build safe homes.”
“The construction industry must also be made to fix the fire safety defects it has built into blocks owned by councils and housing associations. Unless the Government forces the industry to act – or provides funding – we are concerned that the costs of fixing social housing blocks will fall on council housing revenue accounts and housing associations.”
“This will reduce the funding available to meet the Government’s ambitions for improvements to social housing, net zero and the provision of new social housing, leaving tenants and those on the waiting list to suffer the consequences of decades of industry failure and poor regulation. Like leaseholders, council tenants and those on the waiting list are innocent victims and the Government needs to help them too.”