‘Grenfell’ cladding will not be removed from tower blocks until 2025: Government is set to miss repairs target by more than half a DECADE, research shows
- Government wanted the work completed by the end of 2019 for social housing
- Work to replace other types of dangerous cladding has been even slower
- Michael Gove’s bid to slash the number of flats rendered unsellable is set to fail
The target of removing Grenfell-style cladding from tower blocks is set to be missed by more than half a decade.
The Government wanted the work completed by the end of 2019 for social housing and by June 2020 for private properties.
However research by the Labour Party shows that the likely completion dates are April 2025 and February 2024 respectively.
Work to replace other types of dangerous cladding affecting more than ten thousand further blocks has been even slower.
Meanwhile the Daily Mail can reveal that Michael Gove’s bid to slash the number of flats rendered unsellable by fire safety rules is set to fail, trapping hundreds of thousands of more leaseholders.
Around 1.3million leaseholders have been left unable to sell or remortgage their properties in the wake of the Grenfell fire.
The target of removing Grenfell-style cladding from tower blocks is set to be missed by more than half a decade
Lenders won’t provide mortgages until the properties have passed a fire risk assessment, but a shortage of engineers has created waits of up to ten years.
Housing Secretary Mr Gove wants to tear up red tape to reduce the number of affected properties but draft guidance being developed by the British Standards Institution (BSI) would extend checks to smaller properties such as period conversions.
And the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said it could not ignore fire safety issues in smaller blocks.
Martin Boyd, of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, said the PAS 9980 guidance from the BSI would drag ‘hundreds of thousands’ of extra flats into the fire safety process.
He added: ‘It’s an utter mess. No one wants to be culpable for saying we didn’t need to bother to look at these buildings.’
A BSI spokesman said: ‘PAS 9980 is currently going through its final approval process, and more information will be available in due course.’
A Government spokesman said the claims ‘were based on a misunderstanding of PAS 9980’.
He added that the draft guidance set out ‘a consistent method of assessing risk’ and ministers were ‘committed to ensuring leaseholders are supported and protected and will be setting out further proposals in due course’.
The Government wanted the work completed by the end of 2019 for social housing and by June 2020 for private properties
A year ago the Daily Mail launched a campaign to end the cladding scandal by this June.
Ministers have announced a slew of measures in response to our demands, including tripling to £5.1billion the funding available to those with dangerous cladding.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also confirmed that a new developer tax will ensure building firms pay £2billion into the fund over a decade.
But campaigners say that, despite progress, huge holes remain and leaseholders still face crippling bills of up to £150,000 each for the fire-safety work.
Matthew Pennycook, the Labour Party’s housing spokesman, said Mr Gove must ‘accelerate the pace of remediation’.
A spokesman for the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign said: ‘The Daily Mail’s campaign has helped to put the injustice facing hundreds of thousands of leaseholders on the front pages where it belongs.
‘Mr Gove may be starting to talk tough, but those promises need to be backed by tough action, too.’
Fire checks have been required on flats in the wake of the Grenfell fire, which claimed 72 lives in June 2017.
Initially, these applied only to buildings above 18 metres, but in January 2020 Government guidance was extended to buildings of all heights, increasing the number of flats requiring an external wall survey from 307,000 to 1.3million.
It wreaked havoc on the housing market, with thousands of deals collapsing and flat sales falling by half this year.
However research by the Labour Party shows that the likely completion dates are April 2025 and February 2024 respectively
Last July ministers sought to reverse the damage by declaring that surveys should not be required on buildings below 18 metres or six storeys. That aim is in doubt because of the guidance from the BSI and RICS.
Some leaseholders are paying thousands of pounds for temporary fire safety measures while they wait for public funding to be released.
The management company for Magellan House in Leeds submitted an application six months ago to the £5.1billion cladding fund but has not heard back.
And because the fund does not cover non-cladding defects, leaseholders do not know whether they will have to pay part of the bill, which totals £43,000 a flat.
The building also has flammable timber balconies and missing fire breaks, which could cost thousands of pounds for leaseholders to fix.
Lilli Houghton, who bought her flat with her boyfriend for £145,000 in 2018, says she has already paid £7,000 for an evacuation manager, new fire alarms and soaring insurance premiums.
She said: ‘It’s just an awful situation – the fact that we haven’t received anything after six months is a bit of a joke.’
£85,000 each to fix our low-risk flats
Cladding victims reacted with fury after being told last week their block needed repairs costing them £85,000 each.
Shared ownership leaseholders at Oyster Court in Elephant and Castle, south London, must now find £2.6million to fix fire safety defects at their four- storey development.
But they will not be eligible for state funding because the building is below 18 metres in height and lower risk, according to the Government.
A neighbouring private block is set to have its repairs paid in full because it is above 18 metres.
Oyster Court residents including Liam and Ollie Spragley, left, and Emma McGovern with her family, centre
Liam Spragley says his dream of climbing the property ladder has been shattered.
The 39-year-old who lives with his husband Ollie, 36, bought a 25 per cent share of his flat for £75,000 when he was 26.
But his stake could be wiped out by the £85,000 repair bill. Mr Spragley, who works in marketing, said: ‘I’m massively in negative equity. It’s heartbreaking. I turn 40 next year and I’m trapped.’
Emma McGovern, a 34-year-old teacher and mother of four, also fears ending up with nothing because of the huge remediation bill.
She said: ‘Our block is so small, I can’t believe it. The whole point of moving into shared ownership was that it’s meant to be affordable housing.’
She owns 45 per cent of her flat, having taken out a £120,000 mortgage.
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