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Wed April 08 2020

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Budget 2020: £1bn fund for cladding removal

11 Mar Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak has allocated more money in his 2020 budget for the removal of unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings in England.

Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak
Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak

A new Building Safety Fund is being established worth £1bn of government money in a bid to ensure that unsafe cladding is removed from all private and social housing above 18 metres in height.

Last year, in the 2019 budget, the then chancellor Sajid Javid allocated £600m to the removal of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding, following the finding of the role that ACM cladding played in the spread of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire.

The additional money is down to the fact that it has since emerged that it is not just ACM cladding that is a problem and all flammable cladding materials have now been banned.

“The Building Safety Fund will go beyond ACM to ensure that all unsafe cladding is removed,” Mr Sunak said.

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But Kent estate agent David Westgate, chief executive of Andrews Property Group, wondered whether the fund went far enough. “The announcement of a £1bn Building Safety Fund will be welcomed by leaseholders living in high rise blocks around the UK,” he said. “The key issue, as ever, is how quickly the funds can be called upon and if there are any specific criteria that must be met for developments to be eligible. The funds have officially been made available but the logistics have yet to emerge. In the meantime many people’s lives have been put on hold as they cannot secure mortgage finance and they cannot sell their homes.

“What’s also vital is that the new fund covers rendered insulation as well as combustible cladding. In our experience, the cladding issues we are seeing around the UK could soon be surpassed by the problem of rendered insulation.

“If we are to genuinely make every apartment and housing block in this country safe then the newly announced fund needs to cover all materials that are deemed to be unsafe, not just cladding.”

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