The great cladding fund farce: ‘Fundamental flaw’ in Government rescue scheme means flat owners won’t get help if they can’t afford to fix other safety issues
- Housing Secretary recently announced extra £3.5billion to replace cladding
- Thousands of flat owners missing out because of scheme’s ‘fundamental flaw’
- Since been revealed even eligible blocks could be denied cladding funds
Hundreds of thousands of leaseholders of flats entitled to help from the Government’s cladding fund face missing out because of a ‘fundamental flaw’ in the scheme.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick recently announced an extra £3.5billion to replace unsafe cladding on high-rise buildings.
He is already facing a backlash over plans to exclude more than two million leaseholders living in low and medium-rise blocks – the vast majority of those affected.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick (pictured) recently announced an extra £3.5billion to replace unsafe cladding on high-rise buildings
But the Daily Mail can today reveal that even those in eligible blocks could be denied cladding funds unless they stump up millions of pounds to fix other safety defects. Repairs would be put on hold if families cannot find the extra cash.
Industry leaders warned the contract terms could ‘torpedo’ the Government’s programme, while leaseholders claimed they were being ‘held to ransom’ by ministers.
The Mail is calling for all unsafe homes to be fixed by June 2022 and for leaseholders to be spared all of the crippling financial burden.
Just 216 out of a possible 11,760 dangerous buildings have been fixed since the Grenfell tower inferno killed 72 in June 2017.
Just 216 out of a possible 11,760 dangerous buildings have been fixed since the Grenfell tower (pictured) inferno killed 72 in June 2017
The Government has said its overall pot of £5billion will ensure that leaseholders in high-rise buildings will not have to pay to replace unsafe cladding similar to that on Grenfell, in west London.
My £50k repair bill
A woman is facing an anxious wait to find out if her block of flats will receive vital funds to replace unsafe cladding.
Advertising worker Stephanie Lamb, 32, lives in an eight-storey block that has flammable cladding and is eligible for the Government’s £5billion fund.
However, it also has other safety defects that are not covered, such as combustible insulation and missing fire-breaks.
Advertising worker Stephanie Lamb, 32, lives in an eight-storey block that has flammable cladding
The total repair bill could be around £50,000 per flat. Miss Lamb, of Croydon, south London, said: ‘Leaseholders have been left in the dark and we can’t even prepare for how much this might cost us. I don’t know how they expect us to pay for the kinds of bills that are being talked about.’
She said her housing association, Clarion, was initially reluctant to apply for funding as it knew it would not cover non-cladding defects. Clarion said it was working to ensure repairs were ‘completed as quickly as possible’.
But inspections carried out in the wake of the disaster have identified hundreds of buildings with safety defects apart from cladding, such as missing fire-breaks and timber balconies.
These faults are excluded from the Government fund – and the housing ministry has inserted a contract clause that says leaseholders cannot claim aid for cladding repairs without proving they have ‘sufficient funding … to complete all the works’.
The clause in the contract makes clear these works cover non-cladding related safety defects.
The average cost per flat of replacing unsafe cladding is estimated to be £22,500 and leaseholders face another £25,600 bill for other defects, according to the Association of Residential Managing Agents (Arma).
Ministers have said building owners – not leaseholders – should pay these bills.
However, critics say this is meaningless because leaseholders are legally liable.
Clive Betts, Labour chairman of the Commons housing committee, said the clause was ‘outrageous’.
He added: ‘It means every leaseholder in the block is going to have to prove that they can pay their share of the additional work before any repairs will be done.
‘It’s totally unfair, it’s fundamentally wrong and it needs changing straight away.’
Campaign group End Our Cladding Scandal said: ‘This clause is clearly a fundamental flaw and we are concerned that the Government is effectively trying to hold us to ransom by forcing us to take whatever funding is available and make us pay the rest, meaning we will still receive bills running into tens of thousands, and in some cases hundreds of thousands, of pounds.
‘This provides further evidence of the Government’s inadequate, piecemeal and unfair approach.’
Nigel Glen, of Arma, said the clause ‘could torpedo the remediation programme’.
A Government spokesman defended the clause, saying it ‘relates only to other non-cladding works which applicants choose to carry out as part of the same project as cladding work covered by Government funding’.