The £1 billion Building Safety Fund to remove combustible non-ACM cladding from buildings above 18 metres is likely to be only enough to cover a third of the 1,700 buildings that need remediation, warns a parliamentary committee.
Stringent rules on applying to the fund, including a short application window and restrictions against social housing providers, leave at risk many who are unable to access vital funding.
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee is calling on the government to make “an absolute commitment to ensure that all buildings of any height with ACM cladding should be fully remediated of all fire safety defects by December 2021”.
Buildings with other forms of dangerous cladding should have all fire safety defects removed by June 2022. The committee said the government must accept that the £1 billion pledged so far will be insufficient and it should be prepared to meet the cost of what will be necessary to make sure buildings are safe.
Committee chair Clive Betts said: “We have challenged the government to finally commit to removing all forms of dangerous cladding once and for all. Three years on from the Grenfell Tower disaster there are still thousands of homeowners living in buildings with some form of dangerous cladding. The financial and emotional toll has been significant, with temporary safety measures costing huge sums and the ongoing stress of living in a property that may not be safe. This is not good enough.”
Betts added: “It is clear that the £1 billion Building Safety Fund will not be enough. Too many risk being excluded by the criteria for accessing this support and the amount of money pledged is only enough to cover a fraction of the work needed. The fund should be increased so that it is enough to cover the amount of work that is actually needed – both to remove cladding and resolve wider fire safety concerns. Further support must also be provided for the costs of stop-gap safety measures, such as ‘waking watches’, to reduce the burden on homeowners.”
The third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire was yesterday (14 June) and across the country there are still 2,000 high-risk residential buildings with some form of dangerous cladding.