Thank you very much indeed for contacting me about cladding and fire safety issues and, in particular, about the position of leaseholders.
I very much welcomed the recent announcement of a further £3.5 billion in Government funding towards cladding remediation, bringing the total amount of Government funding to just over £5 billion.
The Housing Secretary has confirmed that the Government will fully fund the replacement of unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in residential buildings 18 metres and higher in England. For lower-rise buildings between 11 and 18 metres, where the risk is far lower, the Government has decided to advance loans to leaseholders for remediation costs where remediation has been necessary and no leaseholder would have to pay any more than £50 a month. The Government will publish more details on how these schemes will work in due course.
I welcomed this reassuring announcement, which will provide security to many leaseholders and protect against excessive costs. This funding should mean that banks and mortgage lenders have certainty that remediation costs for these buildings will be covered, and also balances the Government's commitment to help leaseholders while maintaining its responsibility to taxpayers, many of whom are not home-owners themselves.
Indeed, remedying the failures of building safety cannot just be a responsibility for taxpayers alone. That is why plans to introduce a new Gateway 2 developer levy have also been announced, which will apply to developers seeking future permissions on certain high-rise buildings, and is expected to raise £2 billion over a decade. This will help to ensure that taxpayers do not foot all of the bill for remediation and that large property developers contribute to the national remediation effort.
I recognise that some people are concerned about the costs of non-cladding building safety work. In the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy, the independent expert panel recommendation was to focus on unsafe cladding, which is why the remediation of cladding has been the key focus for making buildings safe. Works which are not directly related to the remediation of unsafe cladding systems will not be covered by public funding. Government guidance is clear that building safety is the responsibility of building owners and responsible persons and has provided expert advice on a range of safety issues to provide clarity.
The Government’s funding does not absolve building owners of their responsibility to ensure their buildings are safe, and they should consider all routes to meet costs, protecting leaseholders where they can; for example, through warranties and recovering costs from contractors for incorrect or poor work.
The Government’s intervention is a fix to the worst offending areas in terms of risk. These measures will provide certainty to residents and lenders, boosting the housing market, and reinstating the value of properties.
You can read all the relevant debates and arguments relating to the Fire Safety Bill online on Hansard or on ‘theyworkforyou’. I found the closing remarks the other night from Housing Minister Christopher Pincher MP particularly helpful in terms of explaining the Government’s position: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2021-03-22a.707.0
Thank you once again for writing. Please be assured that I will continue to monitor this situation closely and, where appropriate, will raise your concerns with relevant Ministers.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking