Government to fund private cladding removal
THE GOVERNMENT has announced that it will ‘fully fund’ the replacement of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding on privately owned high rise buildings.
In an announcement, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) confirmed that £200m will be made available to ‘remove and replace’ ACM cladding from around 170 privately owned high rise buildings across the country, and ‘fully fund’ the process ‘where building owners have failed to do so’. It also said the funding pledge would ‘eliminat[e] excuses used by some building owners’, thereby ‘protecting leaseholders from the costs’.
The move has been made after a series of private building owners nationwide ‘failed to take action and tried to offload costs onto leaseholders’, and the government remarked that it ‘appreciates’ the work of both the Grenfell United and UK Cladding Action Group campaigners, who have ‘prominently’ outlined the challenges of forcing private building owners to fund cladding replacement.
It noted that private developers and freeholders ‘have been too slow to act’, with leaseholders ‘threatened with significant, often unaffordable, costs resulting in delays’. Its latest figures showed that 166 privately owned buildings are yet to start remedial works, compared to 23 in the social housing sector, and building owners – under this funding plan – will have three months to access the money, with the government to ‘look carefully at those who fail to remediate and consider what further action can be taken’.
In further detail on the funding, MHCLG stated that a condition of the funding will require building owners to ‘take reasonable steps to recover the costs from those responsible for the presence of the unsafe cladding’, while it pointed out that of the 176 privately owned high rise buildings identified as having ACM cladding, only 10 have completed work to replace the cladding.
Prime Minister, Theresa May said: ‘It is of paramount importance that everybody is able to feel and be safe in their homes. That’s why we asked building owners in the private sector to take action and make sure appropriate safety measures were in place. And we’ve seen a number of private building owners doing the right thing and taking responsibility, but unfortunately too many are continuing to pass on the costs of removal and replacement to leaseholders.
‘Today I can confirm we will now be fully funding the replacement of cladding on high-rise private residential buildings so residents can feel confident they are secure in their homes.’
Communities Secretary, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, said: ‘Although temporary measures are in place to ensure people living in these buildings are safe, too many owners are treating this as a permanent fix. Others are trying to pass on the costs to residents by threatening them with bills running to thousands of pounds.
‘While some building owners have been swift to act, and I thank them for doing the right thing, I am now calling time on the delay tactics of others. If these reckless building owners won’t act, the government will.’
Jonathan O’Neill, managing director of the Fire Protection Association, commented: ‘About time! We welcome this long overdue announcement from MHCLG. At least this funding will give affected individuals some certainty about the safety and value of their homes. Following the success of the Inside Housing #EndOurCladdingScandal campaign, we will continue to call for the use of sprinklers, third party certification and a ban on single staircases as the sole means of escape in tall buildings.’