Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced at the UK Budget that a £1bn fund will be provided to contribute to the costs of the removal of “all unsafe combustible cladding” from “every private and social residential building above 18m high.”
In November 2018, new building regulations came into force to place a ban on combustible cladding and use of combustible materials on high rise residential buildings, over 18m in height. The regulations came into force to improve fire safety in high rise buildings, following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.
The Chancellor has confirmed that the funding will be used to remove not only aluminium composite material (ACM), but to ensure that all unsafe combustible cladding will be removed from every private and social residential building above 18m high.” He has however, advised that building owners and developers would have to “give their fair share as well”, to ensure that this promise is fulfilled.
It has been almost three years since the fire at Grenfell occurred, and there are still many buildings which have external walls, covered in combustible cladding, including student accommodation, care homes, and hospitals.
The Chancellor stated: “Two and a half years on, we’re still grappling with the tragic legacy of Grenfell. Expert advice is clear that new public funding must concentrate on removing unsafe materials from high rise residential buildings, so today I am creating a new building safety fund worth £1 billion.”
A few weeks ago, Bishop Lloyd and Jackson attended a protest to support the thousands of residents and home owners living in buildings, covered in Grenfell-style, unsafe, combustible cladding. The protest called for the Government to release funds to improve fire safety in these high-rise buildings.
Whilst the announcement of the £1bn funding comes as good news, many social landlords and leaseholders have stated that this will not be enough to ensure fire safety in all buildings, with many residents in buildings under 18m, still concerned about their safety. A founder of the UK Cladding Action Group, William Martin, has stated that, although the move was welcomed, his initial thought was, “What about buildings under 18m?”.
Labour has estimated that there are at least 500,000 leaseholders living in private towers with combustible cladding, many with additional fire safety problems, including faulty fire doors.
The CEO of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), Helen Hewett, stated:
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to a £1bn building safety fund which will allow urgent work to be undertaken to make the UK’s housing safer. However, in order to safeguard millions of people, funding must also include provision for the replacement of fire doors, as well as cladding removal…we know that a significant number of councils in the UK have yet to replace inadequate fire doors, and that a number of doors still in use do not satisfy the 30-minute burn time standard. This means that people remain at risk of fires spreading through the buildings they live in. The Government must support local authorities in replacing fire doors by providing central funding, and by giving clear and unambiguous guidance on fire door specification, maintenance and testing.”
How can Bishop Lloyd and Jackson Help?
Bishop Lloyd and Jackson support residents living in buildings with combustible cladding, and we continue to fight for justice for the victims of Grenfell Tower and those who require remedial works to their properties. If you would like to find out more on how we can help with Fire Safety, please get in touch and Contact us.
Our work in relation to the Grenfell Tower fire means we are uniquely placed to advise in relation to possible litigation in this area and on fire safety law.
We have already started litigation on behalf of residents of a block of flats where there were significant fire safety breaches, and continue to investigate other buildings/residents at risk of future fire damage.