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Builders hit out at safety levy extension

19 Apr The £3bn extension of the building safety levy announced by Michael Gove last week has been slammed as unfair by industry representatives.

Michael Gove, secretary of state for levelling up, housing & communities and minister for intergovernmental relations, to give him his full job title
Michael Gove, secretary of state for levelling up, housing & communities and minister for intergovernmental relations, to give him his full job title

The National Federation of Builders says that house-builders of all sizes will now carry the can for cladding they never did.

Housing and communities secretary Michael Gove last week revealed that he had secured £2bn from 36 leading housing developers to fix cladding and fire safety issues on buildings over 11 metres. At the same time he announced that he was expanding the building safety levy, chargeable on all new residential buildings in England, to raise an estimated £3bn over 10 years to ensure that leaseholders in medium-rise buildings are not left facing huge repair bills. The levy, to be charged on applications for building control approval, is being introduced as a clause in the Building Safety Act, which is nearing the statute book. (The Bill returns to the House of Commons tomorrow for consideration of amendments made by the House of Lords.)

While some builders see the building safety scandal as an industry-wide problem that requires an industry-wide solution, others believe that blame should be more directly targeted.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said that the building safety levy was a tax that every new-build developer will be forced to pay, whether they were responsible or not.

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“As well as not sorting this issue for five years, not being forthcoming with the list of guilty parties, unsafe buildings and required works, the government now appear to have decided that innocent builders of all sizes, who have never worked on any dangerously cladded building, should pay for the failures of those who have. Innocent leaseholders shouldn’t pay and neither should innocent builders,” he said. “The entire housebuilding industry now appears to be paying for unsafe works that for the vast majority of them, they never did.”

Michael Gove has warned the Construction Products Association that its members must come up with a scheme of reparations or face (as yet unspecified) government sanctions.

Richard Beresford continued: “It is good to see cladding manufacturers now targeted but developers came together early to work with the government, agreed one cladding tax and took the government’s word on the other. The government has gone back on their word and as with planning reform, it appears as though those who lose out the most will be SME builders.

“In the last few years construction has had 11 new taxes put on it, so if the government is desperate to raise £3bn on the backs of British business, it must do so knowing it will impact SME businesses and the government’s own house-building ambitions.”

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