Three and half years on from the Grenfell tragedy and residents are still facing huge uncertainty and colossal bills for repair work to their homes.
The announcement today comes too late for those first-time buyers who have already gone bust and this really characterises their approach to this crisis. Too narrow in scope and much too slow.
Upfront funding is absolutely essential to ensure that cladding remediation can start as soon as possible. However, in Birmingham, over 100 applications have so far been made to the Building Safety Fund and none of them are yet to receive any money or have any work undertaken. This is glacially slow.
Every week that leaseholders are left with dangerous cladding yet to be removed and the fear that comes with living in a flammable building, leaseholders are having to pay soaring insurance premiums as well as costly waking watch costs to just stay safe in their homes.
On top of all of this, the Government has announced an arbitrary 18 metre height limit for funding this work. Remediation works should be prioritised by risk. For example, in 2019, Richmond House, a building shorter than 18 metres burned down in nine minutes. No flats were saved. Because of the height of this building, it wouldn’t have been eligible for funding to make it safe and we need the Government to start learning lessons before more horrific events like this occur.
The urgency of this issue for leaseholders facing financial ruin does not magically disappear at the 18 metre mark. Leaseholders trapped in unsafe buildings below 18 metres still face soaring insurance premiums and can’t sell their homes until they’re fixed.
We welcome the funding the Government is putting forward but we need them to be realistic and protect leaseholders and taxpayers who haven’t caused the problem.