A £1bn Building Safety Fund, set up to remove dangerous cladding, has been launched by the housing secretary Robert Jenrick MP.
A prospectus has been published for the fund, which has been set up to 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.
The fund is primarily targeted at leaseholders in the private sector who are facing significant bills to carry out this work. However, for leaseholders living in buildings owned by providers in the social sector, the government will meet the provider’s costs which would otherwise have been borne by leaseholders. In its documentation, the Government says that it ‘expects landlords to cover these costs without increasing rent for their tenants’.
Government is already providing £600m for the replacement of ACM cladding systems. This latest fund announcement brings the total funding for cladding remediation to £1.6bn.
Ministers have said they expect those building owners already remediating their buildings to continue to do so “before seeking funding from Government or passing on costs to their leaseholders”.
The fund’s application process seeks to enable projects to proceed at pace. Building owners, freeholders or any others responsible for the building have been urged to register for the fund, with applications able to be progressed alongside the development of the remediation project.
The news comes with the Government also publishing an amendment to the statutory guidance to building safety regulations, otherwise known as Approved Document B. When they come into force, these changes will ensure sprinkler systems and consistent wayfinding signage are mandatory in all new high-rise blocks over 11m tall.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, along with mayors and local leaders, have also pledged to ensure building safety improvements continue during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at property consultancy Ringley, said the fund’s launch was “finally some welcome news to those who know they've been living in dangerous buildings for years.” However, said Bowring, “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."