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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

New tax and billions more for cladding - but is it enough?

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced “an exceptional intervention” promising that leaseholders in high-rise buildings above 18 metres will bear no costs for making them safe.

This will involve new £3.5 billion public spending in England now, in addition to £1.6 billion pledged last year.

There will also be an additional tax on residential developers, from 2022, that is expected to bring in £2 billion over 10 years, directed purely to alleviating cladding issues. 

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Jenrick claims these measures combined will “remove unsafe cladding, provide certainty for leaseholders and make developers pay for mistakes of the past.”

However, for lower-rise buildings below 18 metres with dangerous cladding, Jenrick has pledged only loans for leaseholders with the pledge that repayments will be capped at £50 per month "or far less." This is likely to be a controversial proposal.

An estimated 700,000 people are still living in blocks with flammable cladding of a kind similar to that on London’s Grenfell Tower, in which 72 people were killed in a fire three and a half years ago.Many of the affected blocks have round-the-clock fire patrols - ‘waking watches’ - funded mostly by collectives of flats owners.

Last year the government announced its £1.6 billion building safety fund and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has previously said work was "either completed or under way" on 95 per cent of the residential high-rises identified as having Grenfell-style flammable cladding - ACM - at the start of last year.

The personal scale of the problem is demonstrated in a video interview with Phil Spencer, who has spoken with Giles Grover of the national End Our Cladding Scandal campaign. In a video interview below, Grover says he suffers continual stress and fear, and a £30,000 to £40,000 bill likely to arrive shortly for his personal contribution to his block’s remedial work.

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    This is the most awful scandal - who would take the blame for this if it happened again whilst they are all faffing about?

  • Algarve  Investor

    Well done, Phil. A very worthy cause and a great interview.

    As the commenter above says, this is a national scandal and the lack of action from the government so far has been nothing sort of shocking. As the vaccine rollout has shown, the state can move very fast to make something happen, and there is no reason why the same couldn't have happened in the immediate aftermath of Grenfell. Instead, we have fire watches (paid for by leaseholders, sometimes at extortionate costs) and unsellable homes causing high levels of stress. Homes with dangerous or unsafe cladding have a property value of virtually nil at the moment. It's outrageous.

    With the cladding scandal, the government has taken the slow, dithering approach it has also taken with lockdowns, PPE, testing, quarantining and controlling the borders.

    Apparently Jenrick is actually supposed to turn up and do some work today, announcing something about the scandal. So hopefully some greater clarity after that.

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    Those advocating "quicker simpler conveyancing" should bear this scandal in mind.

    When a hard-pressed lawyer receives the papers from an aggressive developer, in respect of a new leasehold flat, typically there can be several hundreds of pages of paperwork to examine, which can hide a host of sins such as cladding and other inflammable material.

    In terms of cladding, sadly, in the past, too many developers had cut corners. Ironically, it is young couples who end up being the victims of this scandal.

    This can all be fixed, but vested interests need to back off, and let the public interest take centre stage.

  • Algarve  Investor

    Should have happened years ago. A government shamed into action is never a good look.

    Hopefully this will give some comfort to some of those who have been affected.

    The devil, as always, will be in the detail.

  • Matthew Payne

    Whilst the government cant pay for everything all the time, £5bn doesn’t really cover it, so to present it as such, and that no one above 18m will bear any costs is not a true reflection of the scale of the problem. I have seen estimates of £20bn not just to resolve the cladding issues, but also all other deficient or missing fire safety measures that have been revealed in the EWS surveys so far. It doesn’t also deal with buildings below 18m either where residents or owners will have little advantage or take no comfort from being slightly nearer the ground.

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    Imagine if they hadn't wasted all that money on Track & Trace.

     
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    Is this just for England or the whole of the UK as we have major issues in Cardiff??

    Algarve  Investor

    I believe it's only England for now.

     
  • David Clark

    What about below 18m with no real proof of unsafe cladding that lenders are blacklisting and making unsaleable? EWS surveys log-jammed and surveyors understandably not prepared to investigate as there's nothing in it for them and there would still be a requirement for the EWS to keep everybody happy anyway! Frustrating is an understatement.

    Matthew Gardiner Legge

    So true - whole buildings with no cladding where the lenders STILL refuse to lend.

     
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