Mayor: leaseholders still 'counting the cost' after cladding announcement
The Council will continue to support the campaign to end the cladding scandal, Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville has said, after yesterday’s government announcement failed to address the fire safety issues affecting leaseholders in Hackney and across the UK.
Housing Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, yesterday announced new measures to pay for the removal of unsafe cladding, including a new fund for the removal of unsafe cladding in buildings above 18 metres and a £50 a month cap on leaseholder charges for removing cladding on buildings over six storeys.
Campaigners have argued that this will still lead to high costs to leaseholders in buildings below 18 metres and for expensive fire safety works not related to cladding.
In Hackney we’re investing in bringing buildings up to the highest fire safety standards, even where there has been no statutory fire safety risk or legal requirement to do so, without passing the cost of this to our leaseholders or tenants.
But elsewhere in the borough we’re seeing leaseholders counting the cost of decades of inadequate building regulations and failures of developers that they have no responsibility for – something which yesterday’s announcement has spectacularly failed to address nearly four years on from the Grenfell Tower tragedy and more recent incidents.
Leaseholders are left facing bankruptcy, and now loan repayments to the Government, for works that were not their fault. Not getting this right has also meant vital work not taking place, expensive ‘waking watches’ still being used as temporary solutions, and further uncertainty for homeowners, private renters and social tenants with concerns about safety.
Even with the extra funding promised, government support will still only cover a third of the estimated £15 billion cost of ending this scandal across the UK including for buildings under 18m or those with numerous non-cladding related safety issues – showing that ministers have still not grasped the extent of the issue, let alone understood how to fix it. As a Council we support those highlighting and campaigning on this issue.
In November 2020 the Council joined the Housing, Communities & Local Government Committee in calling for the government to step in to ensure leaseholders and shared owners are not forced to pay the cost of making buildings with dangerous cladding safe.
The Council is already leading by example in investing in fire safety in taller buildings without passing the cost on to leaseholders. New, safer external wall insulation has been fitted on five buildings, including Hugh Gaitskell House, the Nye Bevan Estate and the three buildings at Lincoln Court.
While none of the buildings receiving new cladding have had significant fire safety risks or were required to have improvements, the investment will ensure the buildings meet the same standards as buildings built or refurbished today, delivering on the Council’s commitment to going above and beyond to ensure the safety of residents.
This is part of a package of investment in fire safety across Council homes in Hackney, which also includes thousands of new safer front entrance doors, new dry risers to help the London Fire Brigade tackle incidents, and work to ensure more vulnerable residents get extra support in the event of a fire.