The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced an extra £3.5 billion for the removal of unsafe cladding in high rise buildings. The funding is for high-rise residential buildings of 18 metres and above, or those with six storeys or more, in England.
Mike Robinson, the British Safety Council’s Chief Executive, commented:
“We are pleased the Government has, at last, listened to ours and many other peoples’ much-repeated call that leaseholders should not have to pay to remove unsafe cladding, which is an existing fire problem not of their making. Leaseholders and tenants are already paying unaffordable sums for 24/7 fire wardens, to patrol their buildings and ensure they are safe.
While the announcement will provide some reassurance to residents of high-rise properties, more pace must now be injected into this work. It is scandalous that four years after Grenfell, we are still talking about removal of unsafe cladding.”
Further action on fire safety is also necessary if we are to avoid any more tragedies like the one at Grenfell Tower in 2017.
This funding does not cover properties below 18 metres or six storeys, that have some form of unsafe cladding, where leaseholders will still need to pay for its removal. Neither does the scheme provide financial support to people whose buildings have fire safety issues for reasons other than cladding, such as balconies on a building that have been built with flammable material.
It is the role of the state to ensure people are safe in their homes. The Grenfell fire highlighted failures across the whole supply chain from design, cladding manufacturers, construction, fire safety and building occupation. As part of our charitable purpose, the British Safety Council is calling for effective fire safety regulation in the built environment, whatever the height of building, because it is good for business and will deliver a public benefit. While high rise buildings have specific problems, more work is required in building construction more generally.
Mr Robinson concluded: “I am hopeful that the Fire Safety Bill will be enacted without any further delay, so that we can avoid more tragedies like Grenfell.”