Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Developers have hit on the government’s latest plans to solve the upholstery crisis, which could end up with a bill of as much as £ 4 billion.

Michael Gove, the housing secretary, is looking for homebuilders to reduce the cost of resolving fire safety issues on tens of thousands of properties in England. Developers will face the prospect of legal action if they do not.

But builders claim they are being unfairly singled out, arguing that others, including the building safety regulator and the cladding manufacturers, should also be held accountable.

“You can not continue to put all the responsibility on developers,” says Matthew Pratt, CEO of home builder Redrow. “There is still too much ambiguity and we would like the government to provide clarity on what is going on,” he added.

Ministers are struggling to contain a building security crisis that has erupted since then the 2017 fire at Grenfell Tower in west London, in which 72 people died. In the aftermath of the tragedy, concern was raised about several hundred tower blocks clad in the same combustible material used at Grenfell.

The crisis widened in January 2020, when the government advised that any multi-storey, multi-dwelling residential buildings should be assessed for fire risk, which includes more than 800,000 tenants.

Lenders have refused to issue mortgages against properties that may be unsafe and, with a shortage of fire safety experts to sign off on apartments, tens of thousands have been effectively trapped in homes they cannot sell. Many are faced with costs that run up to tens of thousands of pounds for temporary fire safety measures.

Robert Jenrick, who preceded Gove as housing secretary, has allocated £ 5 billion to repair buildings over 18 million and suggested that tenants in properties between 11 million and 18 meters high could take out loans to make any necessary repairs to unsafe flats. deck. But Gove has made it clear that tenants should not bear the cost of resolving fire safety issues.

“Renters do not have to pay for the repair of buildings and the previously proposed loan scheme has proved to be impractical,” said the Home Builders Federation, which represents developers.

But developers have already set aside hundreds of millions to repair properties and the government is raising a further £ 2 billion through a targeted tax on the industry over the next 10 years.

“While homebuilders are committed to playing their part, there are many other organizations involved in building affected buildings, including housing associations and local authorities,” the HBF said.

“As well as developers and the government, other parties should be involved in repair costs, not least material manufacturers who designed, tested and sold materials that buyers bought in good faith that were later proven unsuitable for the purpose,” added it.

Tenants cautiously welcomed Gove’s plans, which are expected to be announced Monday.

“It is good if there is more money for buildings between 11 m and 18 m, but there are still people who can not get funding: buildings under 11 m and all the other non-clad fire safety issues for which there is no funding,” said campaign group End our clothing scandal.

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