Government to fund and speed up vital cladding replacement

The government has stepped in to speed up vital cladding replacement by fully funding the work, eliminating excuses used by some building owners and protecting leaseholders from the costs.

Around £200 million will be made available to remove and replace unsafe aluminium composite material cladding from around 170 privately owned high-rise buildings.

This step has been taken after private building owners failed to take action and tried to offload costs onto leaseholders.

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. The government appreciates the work of Grenfell United and the UK Cladding Action Group who have campaigned prominently, outlining the challenges in getting private building owners to fund the replacement of cladding on their homes.” 

“The government has already fully funded this work in social housing developments. However, private developers and freeholders have been too slow to act and leaseholders have been threatened with significant, often unaffordable, costs resulting in delays. 

“The latest figures show that 166 private buildings are yet to start works on removing and replacing ACM cladding, compared to 23 in the social sector.

“Building owners will have three months to access the new fund. We will look carefully at those who fail to remediate and consider what further action can be taken.”

Building owners and developers who have already fully funded the remediation of buildings are Pemberstone, Aberdeen Asset Management, Barratt Developments, Fraser Properties, Legal & General, Mace and Peabody.

Jonathan O’Neill, managing director of the Fire Protection Association, said: “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.”