Building owners have been urged to act and put the safety of residents first as the government’s £1 billion Building Safety Fund to remove dangerous cladding has been launched by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP.
It comes as the government published the prospectus for the fund which will meet the cost for remediation of unsafe non-ACM cladding systems on residential buildings in the private and social sector that are 18 metres and over and do not comply with building regulations.
This fund is predominately targeted at supporting leaseholders in the private sector facing significant bills.
However, the government is clear that for leaseholders living in buildings owned by providers in the social sector, it will provide funding to meet the provider’s costs which would otherwise have been borne by leaseholders.
The government expects landlords to cover these costs without increasing rent for their tenants.
The government’ is already providing £600 million for the replacement of ACM cladding systems bringing total funding for remediation up to £1.6 billion.
Ministers have been clear that they expect building owners who are already remediating their buildings should continue to do so.
They should explore every opportunity to fund this work before seeking funding from government or passing on costs to their leaseholders.
The fund’s application process has been designed to enable projects to proceed at pace with building owners, freeholders or others responsible for the building urged to register for the fund on Monday as applications can be progressed alongside the development of the remediation project.
It comes as the government has also published an amendment to the statutory guidance to building safety regulations – otherwise known as Approved Document B.
These changes will ensure sprinkler systems and consistent wayfinding signage are mandatory in all new high-rise blocks over 11 metres tall when they come into force.
The Housing Secretary, mayors and local leaders have also pledged to ensure vital building safety improvements continue during the coronavirus pandemic.
This, MHCLG say,will ensure the safety of those living in high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding or insufficient fire safety measures is prioritised.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said:
“Today I am launching our £1 billion fund to remove unsafe non-ACM cladding from buildings.
“This is work that must take place as an absolute priority to keep residents safe and brings total funding for remediation up to £1.6 billion.
“I will not accept any excuses from building owners who have yet to take action and those responsible should register for the fund so that they can start the remediation process immediately.
“I have also reached an agreement with local leaders so that this important work can continue safely during the pandemic.
“New statutory guidance published today also means that all new residential buildings over 11 metres tall will be fitted with sprinkler systems.
“This is another critical part of our commitment to delivering the biggest changes to building safety for a generation.”
Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at Ringley, commented:
“The launch of the new £1bn fund from the Government to remove unsafe non-ACM cladding is finally some welcome news to those who know they’ve been living in dangerous buildings for years, but the truth is the money may not be enough.
“The government needs to support the removal of non-ACM cladding from buildings that are under 18 metres as well, as there is currently no support in place for those living in these types of buildings across the UK.
“Recent tests have suggested that some other cladding types may not have been as safe as previously thought, and if proven to be dangerous, the government should step in and help fund the removal of these too.
“Separately, with the government looking to kickstart the housing market post-lockdown, one area of focus should be helping leaseholders and flat owners unable to sell as they cannot secure an EWS1 form proving their building is safe.
“This means boosting testing capacity and that again may require additional government funding.”