Jenrick: homeowners will get billions to replace dangerous cladding

Robert Jenrick reveals homeowners will get £3.5billion to replace dangerous cladding following Grenfell disaster – but only if their building is more than 18m tall – with others forced to pay up to £50 a month to replace it themselves

  • Robert Jenrick pledged assistance to those facing costs to repair fire-risk homes
  • Plan no leaseholders in building above 18 metres will pay for cladding removal  
  • Not yet clear what help will be offered to those in blocks below 18m in height

Homeowners will get billions of pounds of taxpayers cash to replace dangerous cladding in high-rise buildings, it was confirmed today – but only if they were above a certain height.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick unveiled long-awaited help for victims of the cladding scandal that emerged in the wake of the 2017 Grenfell Tower disaster.

But he revealed that only buildings above 18m tall – or six storeys – would have the cost of replacing the outside of the building covered.

People living in shorter buildings will have to pay for the repairs themselves using a ‘long-term, low-interest’ loan scheme that will cap their costs at £50 a month. 

But the loan will remain with the property, so it could still affect their ability to later sell the property.

Mr Jenrick also unveiled a ‘gateway to developer levy’ would be implemented through the Building Safety Bill, explaining it would only apply when developers seek permission to develop certain high-rise buildings in England.

He told the Commons the move was ‘helping to ensure the industry takes a collective responsibility for historic building safety defects’.

His announcement in the Commons today sparked fury from Labour but also from Tory backbenchers.

Stevenage Conservative MP Stephen McPartland said: ‘I am listening to Robert Jenrick’s ‘s announcement with my head in my hands. Wondering how he can have got this so wrong. 

‘It is a betrayal of millions of leaseholders. It is not good enough. It is shocking incompetence. It is clear the PM has to step in now.’

More than a million homeowners have been left unable to sell or remortgage their flats since the Grenfell Tower inferno in Kensington, west London, which killed 72 people.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick unveiled long-awaited help for victims of the cladding scandal that emerged in the wake of the 2017 Grenfell Tower disaster.

More than a million homeowners have been left unable to sell or remortgage their flats since the Grenfell Tower inferno in Kensington, west London, which killed 72 people in June 2017

In a statement, Mr Jenrick told the Commons: ‘We will make further funding available to pay for the removal and replacement of unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in high-rise residential building of 18-metres and above – or above six storeys – in England.

‘We continue to take a safety-led approach and this funding will focus on the higher-rise buildings where the independent expert advisory panel tells us – time and again – the overwhelming majority of the safety risk lies, in line with the existing building safety fund and the anticipated scope of the new building safety regulator that we’re establishing and will shortly be legislating for.

‘This will ensure that we end the cladding scandal in a way that is fair and generous to leaseholders.’

On lower and medium-rise blocks of flats, Mr Jenrick said: ‘The Government will develop a long-term scheme to protect leaseholders in this situation, with financial support for cladding remediation on buildings between four and six storeys.

‘Under a long-term low-interest scheme, no leaseholder will ever pay more than £50 a month towards the removal of unsafe cladding, many far less. Taken together this means the Government is providing more than £5 billion including a further £3.5 billion announced today plus the significant cost of the very generous financing scheme which will run for many years to come to ensure all leaseholders in medium and high-rise blocks face no costs or very low costs if cladding remediation is needed.

‘Where it is, costs can still be significant for leaseholders, which is why we want to take these important steps.’

But Labour’s shadow housing secretary Thangam Debbonaire branded the scheme an ‘injustice’. 

‘Three and a half years on from Grenfell, hundreds of thousands can’t sleep at night because their homes are unsafe. The Government has chosen to pile financial ruin on them,’ she told the Commons.

‘What does the Housing Secretary say to Julie in Runcorn, who lives in a flat with dangerous HPL cladding? Her block is under 18m, so she has been unable to access any funding promised so far by the Government. She lives in the same development as buildings with the exact same cladding, but over 18m, who can access the fund.

‘Why should the arbitrary height limit mean the difference between a safe home, and financial ruin?

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick will pledge state assistance for many of those hit with huge costs to repair their fire-risk homes. Pictured: Residents of the Green Quarter development in Manchester city centre

Around four million people are stuck in dangerous buildings, with more than a million flat-owners facing crippling costs for safety measures and special insurance.

The scandal has left families facing repair bills of up to £115,000, and without Government action hundreds of thousands of flats are unsellable.

The announcement comes a week after Boris Johnson told the Commons: ‘We are determined that no leaseholder should have to pay for the unaffordable costs of fixing safety defects that they didn’t cause and are no fault of their own.’

It is believed the cost of the cladding bailout from the Treasury could top £5billion. Ministers have also discussed a levy on construction firms to help foot the bill.

Last month the Mail also spoke to Lilli Houghton, 26, (pictured) who bought a flat in Leeds with her boyfriend for £145,000 in July 2018. A safety investigation later discovered flammable cladding, forcing her to pay an initial extra £960 in service charges

Paul Afshar, of the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign, said: ‘The psychological cost of living in firetrap flats is heavy enough to bear.

‘Now it looks like we will shortly be saddled with crippling 30-year loans, longer than our mortgages, to fix a problem we didn’t cause. 

Panels sold without any fire training 

The manager who sold flammable cladding for Grenfell Tower was given tough sales targets but no training on the product’s fire safety, an inquiry heard yesterday.

Deborah French was hired as the UK cladding sales manager by construction giant Arconic even though she had no knowledge of the product.

She sold panels with a combustible polyethylene core to contractors refurbishing the tower block in Kensington, west London. Speaking at the public inquiry into the disaster, Miss French said she attended a week-long induction at Arconic’s offices in France when she joined the firm.

She described being given ‘training on every aspect of sales’. However the 54-year-old said she was not given any technical training and instead had to learn ‘on the job’.

The Government needs to decide where its priorities lie. On the one side you have millions of leaseholders suffering sleepless nights for fear of £40,000 bills landing on their doorstep just to make their homes safe.

‘On the other, the largest developers who collectively have made more than £10billion in profit since the Grenfell fire. Rishi Sunak can and must do the right thing and properly fund cladding removal to make sure millions of voters can, once and for all, sleep safely at night.’

More than a million homeowners have been left unable to sell or remortgage their flats since the Grenfell Tower inferno in Kensington, west London, which killed 72 people in June 2017. 

Leaseholders face average costs of £40,000 each – and some of up to £115,000 – to replace dangerous cladding.

Just 216 out of an estimated 11,760 dangerous buildings have been fixed in the three-and-a-half years since the Grenfell fire.

The Daily Mail has launched a campaign calling on ministers to make homes safe within 18 months and spare leaseholders the cost. 

Among those facing huge bills after cladding was deemed to be dangerous were leaseholders in Manchester’s Green Quarter, which the Mail highlighted last month.

Our campaign also calls for the companies responsible for the crisis to be made to pay their fair share.

Last week Barratt became the first housing developer to back a levy. Chief executive David Thomas said the industry had a ‘collective responsibility’ to cover the costs of the crisis.

The housing ministry is understood to be lobbying the Treasury for a £10billion pot, including the levy on developers.

But leaseholders fear the Government’s plans do not go far enough and will still lumber many of them with huge long-term loans.

Last month the Mail also spoke to Lilli Houghton, 26, who bought a flat in Leeds with her boyfriend for £145,000 in July 2018. 

A safety investigation later discovered flammable cladding, forcing her to pay an initial extra £960 in service charges.

She then faced a bill for almost £3,000 last month – and was told the total cost of works for each flat could be as much as £43,000. 

She said: ‘People are taught from a young age to save their money and get a foot on the property ladder.

‘Now this is just a complete slap in the face.’

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