Recently the government announced funding towards the cost of removing unsafe cladding on buildings. However the plans have been widely criticised for not going far enough – as they still leave the cost of crucial safety measures with many leaseholders.
Homeowners in blocks less than 18 metres tall are left out of this new cladding crisis fund, and will instead be offered long-term loans, which risks pushing people into negative equity.
Government have also failed provide the support needed to deal with all the safety problems faced in high-rise homes – including those that relate to non-ACM cladding, such as Sheffield buildings like Metis and Wicker Riverside.
We believe government have betrayed their promise that leaseholders will not pay for the buildings safety crisis.
Councillor Bob Johnson (Council Leader) and Councillor Paul Wood (Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety) are calling on the government to do much, and offer their support to the campaign group ‘End Our Cladding Scandal’, which includes the Sheffield Cladding Action Group.
You can read their statement below:
More than three and a half years since the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people, an estimated 700,000 people are still living in high-rise blocks with flammable cladding.
It is now over three years since the tragic Grenfell Tower fire and yet the government have failed to get to grips with scandal of dangerous cladding.
Lack of proper action from government over covering the costs has affected Sheffield residents. Many will have bought their property in good faith, only to face both the immediate cost of having to fund ‘waking watches’, as well as not knowing whether they will one day be confronted by a financially crippling bill from their building owner for remedial works.
It would be distressing to see anyone held to ransom in this way at any time, but it is even more concerning given the current economic uncertainty and pandemic. Whilst all of this hangs over them, owners in these tower blocks have no chance of selling their flats and it is not hard to imagine the impact this must be having on the mental wellbeing of the individuals affected.
Sheffield Council believes it is time for firm action from the Government rather than continued broken promises, to avoid a repeat of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
Government’s recent announcement is a small step forward, but does not provide the support needed to deal with all the safety problems faced in high-rise homes, including those that relate to non-ACM cladding – such as Sheffield buildings like Metis and Wicker Riverside
Furthermore, there is no real help for buildings with other safety issues or buildings under 18m.
This isn’t good enough – the Government must come forward with proposals for comprehensive remediation for safety issues and all buildings, at no cost to leaseholders.
Locally we are doing what we can for Sheffield City Council tenants in high-rises – having checked out all blocks; no further cladding is to be removed, and all blocks are checked for fire safety protection. As part of the Housing Revenue Account recently agreed by councillors, the council will invest £500 million into council housing stock over the next five years, including investment in further health and safety measures such as fire safety improvements.
But far more needs to be done for those in private blocks – and Labour councillors are supporting the campaign to ‘End Our Cladding Scandal’ to demand that Government leads a national effort to ensure safety in all tower blocks, with the prioritisation of those blocks most at risk.
Labour Councillor Bob Johnson, Leader of Sheffield City Council
Labour Councillor Paul Wood, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety
We are fully committed to calling on government to take these 10 steps to end the National Cladding Scandal – as advocated by Sheffield’s Cladding Action Group:
- The government must lead an urgent national effort to remove all dangerous cladding from buildings by June 2022.
- The Building Safety Fund must cover all buildings, regardless of height, and a range of internal and external fire safety defects, not just cladding.
- The government should provide the money up front and then seek to recover it from any responsible parties or via a temporary levy on development.
- Social housing providers must have full and equal access to the fund.
- The government must compel building owners or managers to be honest with residents about fire safety defects.
- The government should cover the cost of interim safety measures.
- The government should act as an insurer of last resort and underwrite insurance where premiums have soared.
- A fairer, faster process is needed to replace the EWS form and funding is necessary to ensure all buildings requiring a form are surveyed within 12 months.
- Mental health support must be offered to affected residents.
- Protecting residents from historic and future costs must be a key commitment of new building safety legislation.