Whitehall launches £200m fund to replace unsafe cladding

By William Eichler | 09 May 2019

The Government has launched a £200m fund to help remove and replace unsafe cladding on privately owned high-rise buildings.

Following the Grenfell Tower fire, 176 private high-rise residential buildings with unsafe aluminium composite material cladding were identified.

However, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government estimates that only 10 of these buildings have completed work to replace the cladding, leaving 166 without safe cladding, compared to 23 in the social sector.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire said: ‘Although temporary measures are in place to ensure people living in these buildings are safe, too many owners are treating this as a permanent fix.

‘Others are trying to pass on the costs to residents by threatening them with bills running to thousands of pounds.

‘While some building owners have been swift to act and I thank them for doing the right thing I am now calling time on the delay tactics of others.

'If these reckless building owners won’t act the Government will.’

Mr Brokenshire launched the scheme after overriding concerns from permanent secretary Melanie Dawes that it went against the principles of Managing Public Money, a Treasury document that details how resources in UK public sector organisations should be used.

Ms Dawes had written to Mr Brokenshire: 'A fund to support leaseholders involves a transfer of resources from the general taxpayer to private individuals and companies.

'The analysis the department has done shows that the public benefits of the scheme do not outweigh the costs of this transfer.

'The distributional impact is likely to be slightly regressive since leaseholders, on average, have incomes higher than those of the general population.

'As such, the proposal does not meet the normal tests of value for money.

'It is important to ensure that sufficient steps are taken to ensure that the scheme does not create a precedent whereby leaseholders – or freeholders – expect the Government to stand behind failures in the construction or maintenance of residential buildings in future.'

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