Grenfell cladding fund ‘too late’

9 May 19

Charities and trade bodies have criticised the time it has taken the government to launch a £200m fund to remove Grenfell-style cladding from private high-rise buildings.

The fund will support work to remove the cladding – now banned from use on new high-rise buildings – from about 170 privately owned buildings.

“It is quite frankly unacceptable that so many private tower blocks have been left with dangerous cladding, leaving thousands of people living in fear,” said Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Announcing the move, Prime minister Theresa May said it was crucial to remove aluminium composite material cladding from high-rise buildings.

“It is of paramount importance that everybody is able to feel and be safe in their homes,” she said.

“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.”

The prime minister noted that while some private building owners have taken responsibility for removing cladding “too many are continuing to pass on costs of removal and replacement to leaseholders.”

Communities secretary James Brokenshire 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.”

But opposition MPs, charities and trade bodies lamented the time taken to provide this funding.

Shadow housing secretary John Healey said it was “astonishing” that the funding had taken almost two years to deliver.

The government said figures show that work is yet to start on removing and replacing ACM cladding on 166 private buildings compared to 23 in the social sector.

It added that the fund will protect leaseholders from the cost of removing cladding, and building owners will have three months to access the new fund.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said:  “It is a source of deep concern that nearly two years after the devastating Grenfell fire this dangerous cladding is still on buildings.

“It is vital that it is removed as quickly as possible. The first priority of any government must be to protect its citizens so we welcome today’s announcement.”

Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, said the announcement will come as an “enormous relief” to leaseholders.

“Since the LGA first raised their plight in 2017, we have been working with MHCLG to ensure the Treasury provided the necessary funding, and it is great that we have been listened to.” 

Last year, councils were given powers to enforce the removal of cladding from private buildings.

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