Fund for the removal and replacement of unsafe non-ACM cladding systems.
£1 billion Building Safety Fund
On 11 March 2020, the government has announced in the Budget that we will provide £1 billion in 2020 to 2021 to fund the removal and replacement of unsafe non-ACM cladding systems. These systems, such as high-pressure laminate, wood and other class C/D cladding (as identified in the Independent Expert Advisory Panel’s consolidated advice note on building safety, have been installed on high-rise residential buildings in both the private and social housing sectors.
This funding is in addition to the £600 million which government has already made available to ensure the remediation of the highest risk Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding of the type that was in place on Grenfell Tower. It comes in advance of the introduction of the new regulatory regime.
The grant funding will be available to remediate buildings in both the social and private residential sectors of 18 metres in height, and over, that have such cladding systems. It is this combination of risks that experts, including Dame Judith Hackitt, have advised pose the greatest threat to public safety and should be remediated.
Building owners remain legally responsible for ensuring the safety of their buildings and residents. In blocks of flats this will generally be the freeholder or their managing agent.
In the private sector, grants will be for the benefit of the leaseholder owners of flats. The government also expects building owners who have already committed to pay for the removal and replacement of unsafe non-ACM cladding systems on buildings above 18 metres honour these commitments. We know many building owners in the social sector are already rightly prioritising and taking forward this remediation work. We expect them to continue with this action so we can prioritise this funding on those who cannot afford the cost, creating a barrier to remediation and safety.
In providing financial support the government is therefore making clear that building owners can have no excuse for not ensuring their residents are safe in their homes. It will also help in the transition to the new regulatory arrangements, delivering positive change in advance of the Building Safety Bill and the new regime of ‘safety case reviews’, recommended in Dame Judith Hackitt’s review.
This total investment of £1.6 billion to support the remediation of ACM and non-ACM cladding systems on private and social residential buildings above 18 metres will be the limit to the government’s funding for remediation.
The fund does not absolve industry from taking responsibility for any failures that led to unsafe cladding materials being put on these buildings. As a condition of funding, building owners must pursue warranty claims and appropriate action against those responsible for putting unsafe cladding on these buildings, which will be repaid to government once recouped.
If building owners continue to fail in their responsibility to remediate unsafe cladding systems, despite this additional funding, the government will not hesitate to encourage and support enforcement action through local authorities and fire and rescue services using their powers under the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. These enforcement powers, including the changes we are making through the Fire Safety Bill, and additional funding announced for the fire and rescue services in the Budget, will help ensure owners remediate their buildings at pace.