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Calls grow for social landlords to have full access to funds for building safety remediation

Social landlords that own tower blocks should have access to the Government’s new building safety fund.

That call has come from the Local Government Association (LGA) and Labour MP Clive Betts, who chairs the House of Commons Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee.

Mr Betts said: “Social landlords should have full access to funds for building safety remediation and be exempt from the Building Safety Levy. More detail from the Secretary of State on how social landlords will be affected would be welcome.”

David Renard, Conservative leader of Swindon Borough Council and LGA housing spokesperson, said: “We call on the Government to provide the same protection to council tenants and council taxpayers as it has afforded homeowners, by exempting councils from the developer levy and funding the remediation of social housing on the same basis as private housing.”

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The deal between the Government and the home building industry has seen the latter agree to contribute £5bn in all towards building safety following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said the industry will commit £2bn to fix affected buildings built by extant companies.

He said under a legally enforceable agreement, some 35 major homebuilders will fix all buildings of 11 metres or more height that they played a role in developing in the last 30 years.

Companies not signed up to this would face “consequences if they fail to do so”, which could include the use of new powers to allow the Secretary of State to block them from building and selling new homes.

Builders are to contribute a further £3bn over 10 years to a Building Safety Levy for buildings where those responsible for safety works either cannot be identified or forced to contribute, for example if companies are defunct or based abroad. This will be chargeable on all new residential buildings in England.

Qualifying leaseholders will be protected from the costs of historical building safety defects, including cladding costs.

Mr Betts said: “I hope the Secretary of State is able to provide clarification around what is covered by the funding announcement and the building safety levy, including whether it will apply to non-cladding as well as cladding issues, and the total expected amount that industry and Government will together spend on remediation."

Mr Gove said: "I welcome the move by many of the largest developers to do the right thing.

"this is just the beginning. We will do whatever it takes to hold industry to account, and under our new measures there will be nowhere to hide.”

The Secretary of State has meanwhile written to the Construction Products Association (CPA) warning the Government will also do “whatever it takes” to hold cladding and insulation manufacturers to account.

CPA chief executive Peter Capelhorn said: “I am personally and professionally disappointed that we have not been able to come up with an agreement. We have worked tirelessly to bring together the sector to design a suitable solution for everyone but with a real focus on helping homeowners and tenants within an appropriate timeframe.”

Mr Capelhorn said his members “do understand the urgency of finding a solution and have been working hard with us to try to find a suitable formula.

“We should stress however that many are troubled by the lack of detail in terms of scope and definitions for the work and the lack of support from valuers, insurers and the mortgage sectors.”

Mark Smulian

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