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Loans To Fix Dangerous Cladding To Be Introduced For Leaseholders In Blocks Between Four and Six Storeys

3 min read

House Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced leaseholders in buildings over 18m with flammable cladding will face no costs for remediation work but those in medium and low rise blocks are to face loans.

The £5 billion funding package from the government - the largest ever investment in building safety - announced in the Commons today, will pay for the costs of removing dangerous cladding for buildings above six storeys. 

For people in medium or low rise blocks, they will be offered a low interest loan scheme. 

Jenrick said no leaseholder in those kinds of blocks would be paying more than £50 a month towards any remediation scheme if the cladding needs to be removed.

However, the plan was met with fury by Tory cladding rebel Stephen McPartland, who had earlier warned the government that leaseholders should not have to pay for historical fire safety defects. “Anything less is a betrayal of millions of people,” he said.

After the announcement, he described Jenrick's plan as "a betrayal of millions of leaseholders," adding "It is not good enough. It is shocking incompetence."

A developer levy will also be introduced to developers who want to create certain high-rise buildings in England, he said. And there will also be a new tax for the UK property development sector from 2022 set to raise £2 billion.

Jenrick said: "This is an exceptional intervention and amounts to the largest ever government investment in building safety. We believe in home ownership and today we firmly support the hundreds of thousands of homeowners who need our help."

He said the announcement should give confidence to lenders, and expected all banks and buildings societies to support the plan.

Labour's shadow housing secretary, Thangam Debbonaire, said the government had promised that leaseholders would bear no cost and had betrayed them.

She said: "The government has chosen today to pile financial misery on them. This is an injustice."

She said the 18 metre height rule was arbitrary - particularly considering many housing developments contain a mixture of buildings of different storeys.

Up to 700,000 people in the UK are living in homes with unsafe cladding, brought to light after the fire at Grenfell Tower in West London, which killed 72 people in June 2017.

Jenrick has been under significant pressure from leaseholders and his own backbench MPs to come up with a scheme that does not leave leaseholders bearing the costs of rectifying dangerous aluminium composite material cladding.

The spiralling costs to homeowners has led people to file for bankruptcy, as they cannot afford to pay for the remediation work and they are being required to pay rising insurance costs of several thousands of pounds a month. This is while their flats remain unsellable and unable to be rented out. Many have also had to pay thousands of pounds on 'waking watch' fire wardens to patrol their buildings.

So far the government has announced a £1.6bn building safety fund in 2020 to pay for the removal of cladding – both  ACM and other dangerous types of material.

It then released a £30 million fund to install improved fire alarm systems in blocks of flats.

Though campaigners have said this falls repeatedly short of the amount of money the government needs to provide to stop leaseholders being penalised financially for building work they had no hand in.

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