I wanted to take this opportunity to update with my thoughts on the Government’s cladding announcement on Wednesday.
As you know, I have been meeting with leaseholders in 20 blocks affected and campaigning on their behalf to the government and to their developers. So I am glad that the Government is finally starting to listen to campaigners and MPs like myself, but Wednesday’s announcement still falls short of achieving justice for affected home-owners and leaves yet more questions unanswered. The first is how quickly can the work be done and your homes made safe and saleable again.
Thousands of Putney residents face huge bills now for waking watch services, and for future works to fix the cladding on their buildings. They will be pleased that the Government has said again that the leaseholders must not pay for these building works and that there has been a much-needed increase in the Building Safety Fund to cover the huge costs, and that the increase will be recouped from developers through a levy and future tax. The proposal of a developer levy has actually been pioneered by a Putney resident, please do get in touch if you would like his details. I was also pleased to hear that the Government has been working with RICS and lenders to amend the guidance pertaining to EWS1 forms, which is another area I have been pushing on.
This is welcome, but the Secretary of State broke his promise moments later. I had my head in my hands when I heard that Government funding will still only be available for buildings over 18m high, and that buildings lower than this will have to secure funding through a loan. Not only will a loan not speed up remediation – it will only add layers of administration I immediately received a lot of emails from people living in lower buildings (one only 3cm under the 18m cut off). Why should homeowners in buildings under 18m still have to pay for their cladding remediation and be saddled with more debt? Why should the arbitrary height limit mean the difference between a safe home, and financial ruin? And there are others – including many in Putney – who don’t have cladding but have been charged £100,000 per flat to fix other fire safety issues. What does the Housing Secretary have say to them?
Government Ministers have now promised 17 times that leaseholders will not bear the cost of fixing a problem they didn’t cause. While yesterday is a step forward, and many will sleep easier, there is still more that needs to be done. People cannot continue to live in unsafe homes. Home-owners shouldn’t face bankruptcy to fix a problem they didn’t cause.
Rest assured my colleagues and I – from both sides of the House – will not stop fighting the Government on this. We will not accept a half-baked offer that still leaves leaseholders vulnerable to debt and costs.
Please do keep following my campaign here: https://www.fleuranderson.co.uk/2020/08/21/the-cladding-scandal/