Cladding removal funds ‘not sufficient’, MPs warn
The government’s recently announced £1bn Building Safety Fund to remove combustible non-ACM cladding from buildings above 18m will only cover a third of the 1,700 buildings that require remediation, MPs have warned.
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee warned that support would fall “far short” of what was needed to carry out remedial work on buildings that have dangerous cladding or other fire safety issues, including inadequate fire doors or missing fire breaks.
It criticised “stringent rules” on applying to the £1bn non-ACM cladding fund, including a short application window and restrictions against social housing providers.
And it urged the government to make an “absolute commitment” to ensure that all buildings of any height with ACM cladding should be fully remediated of all fire safety defects by December 2021.
Buildings with other forms of dangerous cladding should have all fire safety defects removed by June 2022, it added. Meanwhile, it called on the government to accept that its £1bn fund was “insufficient” and meet the cost necessary to make the buildings safe.
And the committee suggested that rather than the taxpayer being expected to cover all costs, the government should seek to recover costs on individual buildings from those responsible and be prepared to take legal action.
Committee chair Clive Betts said: “It is clear that the £1bn Building Safety Fund will not be enough. Too many risk being excluded by the criteria for accessing this support and the amount of money pledged is only enough to cover a fraction of the work needed. The fund should be increased so that it is enough to cover the amount of work that is actually needed, both to remove cladding a resolve wider fire safety concerns. Further support must also be provided for the costs of stop-gap safety measures, such as ‘waking watches’, to reduce the burden on homeowners.
“This should not just be a question of the government, and therefore the taxpayer, stepping in with a blank cheque. Those who have caused, and in some cases refuse to rectify, safety issues must be made to pay. We call on the government to consider taking legal action to recover the cost of works on individual buildings. Compulsory Purchase Order powers should be used to take direct ownership of buildings where owners have failed to begin remedial work by December 2020.
“It is time for the government to commit to end the scourge of dangerous cladding once and for all. A piecemeal approach that will see homeowners facing many more years of stress and financial hardship. This is not an option.”
Slow progress on ACM remediation continues
A total of 300 high-rise residential and publicly owned buildings with ACM cladding systems unlikely to meet Building Regulations still haven’t been remediated in England.
That’s according to the latest update from the government’s Building Safety Programme, running up to 31 May 2020. A total of 155 buildings have now completed remediation works. Another 54 have had their ACM cladding systems removed.
As of 31 May, the Social Sector ACM Cladding Remediation Fund approved £270m of funding for the removal and replacement of unsafe ACM.
The Private Sector ACM Cladding Remediation Fund has approved £33m for the removal and replacement of unsafe ACM.