The £1 billion Building Safety Fund to remove combustible non-ACM cladding from buildings above 18 metres is likely to be sufficient only to cover the cost of removal from a third of the 1,700 buildings needing remediation, according to a parliamentary committee.
Stringent rules on applying to the fund, including a short application window and restrictions against social housing providers, risks leaving many 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. They must accept that the £1 billion pledged so far will be insufficient and be prepared to meet the cost of what will be necessary to make sure buildings are safe.
Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, Clive Betts MP, 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 risks 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 a 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.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “The safety of residents is our top priority and since the Grenfell Tower fire we have worked tirelessly with councils to identify buildings at risk and ensure they are made safe.
“We are providing £1.6bn for the removal and replacement of unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings and are bringing forward the biggest legislative changes in a generation to provide further enforcement powers against those who do not comply with the law and ensuring that residents’ safety is at the heart of the construction process.
“Building owners have a legal responsibility to keep their residents safe and whilst we have seen positive action from some, we are clear that more needs to be done to protect their tenants."
The third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire was on Sunday 14 June and there are still 2,000 high-risk residential buildings with some form of dangerous cladding.