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The Housing Secretary has announced £3.5 billion funding to tackle unsafe cladding - is it enough? Tom Pemberton provides the legal comment of the week
Longstanding legal journalist Edward Fennell’s legal blog is a must read for those interested in insightful commentary on the legal issues that matter and in the housing sector there is no bigger issues than the cladding scandal that currently engulfs it. This week the Government announced an extra £3.5 billion in funding to help with the problem, Goodman Derrick’s Tom Pemberton was invited to comment and he has been nominated as the Legal Commentator of the Week.
“Nearly four years after the Grenfell Tower disaster, it is entirely understandable that a number of the government’s own backbenchers have reacted with dismay to the gaps which are left by Robert Jenrick’s statement announcing government support for those whose lives continue to be blighted by living in buildings which are unsafe and unsaleable. While the new funding of £3.5 billion is a welcome supplement to the woefully inadequate Building Safety Fund of £1.6 billion, it will still leave a huge shortfall on the cost of making buildings safe, which is likely to exceed £15 billion.
Like the Building Safety Fund, the new funding will only cover the cost of replacing external cladding systems which comprise unsafe panels made of aluminium composite material. It will not cover the cost of other essential work to make buildings safe, for example to replace faulty smoke ventilation systems or combustible insulation inside the external wall, the widespread presence of which has also become clear after the Grenfell Tower disaster. Furthermore, the new funding will only apply to buildings over 18 metres high. While Robert Jenrick announced that that the government will also develop a long-term low-interest loan scheme which will cover cladding remediation (but again not other essential work) on buildings of between four and six storeys, and stated that no leaseholder will ever have to pay more than £50 a month towards this, this will be of limited comfort to those who entered into leases of buildings which they were entitled to assume were safe.
The tax which Robert Jenrick announced will be levied on housing developers in order to finance the scheme for buildings over 18 metres high will no doubt be passed on in large measure to future purchasers of their homes. Many will no doubt question the fairness of this, particularly if (as appears to be the government’s intention) the new tax will fall on those developers who have never allowed dangerous cladding to be installed on their watch, as well as those who have.
The latest scheme is by no means the last word. Like other firms, we expect to continue to be kept busy in advising affected clients until a solution is found to the building safety crisis which fairly and comprehensively addresses needs and fairly allocates the burden.”
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Edward Fennel's Legal Blog is available at https://edwardfennelllegaleventsdiary450111829.wordpress.com/
This guide is for general information and interest only and should not be relied upon as providing specific legal advice. If you require any further information about the issues raised in this article please contact the author or call 0207 404 0606 and ask to speak to your usual Goodman Derrick contact.