Government announces an extra £3.5bn towards cladding fund
On 10 February 2021, the Government finally announced further funding of £3.5 billion would be made available to support the cost of carrying out cladding remediation works to high-rise buildings.
Following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, as part of the Government’s wider Building Safety Programme established to ensure residents of high-rise buildings are safe, the Government announced in May 2019 that they would be setting up a fund. In the March 2020 budget, the Government announced that this fund amounted to £1 billion.
There were serious concerns that £1 billion was not enough to cover the costs of replacing the unsafe cladding for all high-rise buildings affected. The costs of fire safety remediation works at many high-rise developments often cost millions of pounds, the expense of which is usually recoverable from the leaseholders under the terms of their leases. With an estimated 12,500 high-rise buildings in the UK home to residential leaseholders, many of which have unsafe cladding, it seemed likely that the fund would quickly run out. However, it has now been announced that the Government is promising an extra £3.5 billion fund toward remediation works for cladding from high-rise buildings over 18m tall.
It is not yet clear how exactly the additional funding will be allocated, or whether it will fund other fire issues not currently covered such as internal fire-stopping measures. Leaseholders may consider that this funding does not go far enough and that many leaseholders who find themselves in buildings with unsafe cladding which are not over 18m are missing out. However, this announcement is positive news for leaseholders who were concerned that the original £1 billion funding was inadequate.
Leaseholder should also be aware of the Government’s Waking Watch Fund which was announced in December 2020. The fund is for covering the costs of installing new fire alarm systems which remove the need for the costly waking watch services which many building have had to engage as a condition of staying open. Applications for the Waking Watch Fund opened on 31 January 2021 (for properties outside London) and close on 14 March 2021, so leaseholders should be pushing their freeholders/managing agents to make the necessary application as soon as possible.
Whilst for many leaseholders, the Government funding is their best shot at recovering the costs of remediation works, leaseholders may have other options open to them and recourse against other parties including the developers, architects and builders. Legal advice should be sought on this before the right to sue expires.
The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.
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