Michael Gove, the ‘levelling up’ secretary of state, has agreed a solution with the housing industry that will see developers commit a minimum of £2bn to fix their own buildings going back 30 years. Industry will also pay an estimated further £3bn through an expansion to the Building Safety Levy.
However, the government is still pursuing manufacturers of cladding and insulation materials, which it considers equally culpable in the scandal. Manufacturers have yet to accept their share of responsibility and come forward with a proposal, Gove said. He has today written to the Construction Products Association warning that he will do “whatever it takes” to hold them to account.
Under the agreement with developers, which will become legally enforceable, more than 35 of the UK’s biggest house-builders have pledged to fix all buildings higher than 11 metres that they have played a role in developing in the last 30 years.
Each developer will be expected shortly to sign a legally binding contract reflecting these pledges and inform leaseholders in affected buildings how they will be meeting their commitments. They have also agreed to reimburse any funding already received from government remediation programmes in relation to buildings they had a role in developing or refurbishing.
Companies yet to make the pledge are threatened with being banned from building or selling new homes.
The developers who have agreed to the arrangement are:
- Churchill Retirement
- CG Fry
- Crest Nicholson
- Hill Group
- Keepmoat Homes
- Lioncourt Homes
- London Square
- Mactaggart & Mickel
- McCarthy & Stone
- Miller Homes
- Morris Homes
- Rowland Homes
- St Modwen
- Taylor Wimpey
- Vistry Partnership
- William Davis
As set out in January, a new government scheme will also see industry pay to fix buildings where those responsible cannot be identified or forced to in law. This follows previous confirmation that plans for a 30-year loan scheme paid for by leaseholders would be scrapped. The new scheme will be funded through an extension to the Building Safety Levy that will be chargeable on all new residential buildings in England. This is expected to raise up to an additional estimated £3bn over 10 years from developers.
Michael Gove said: “Today marks a significant step towards protecting innocent leaseholders and ensuring those responsible pay to solve the crisis they helped to cause. I welcome the move by many of the largest developers to do the right thing. But 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.”
In his letter to the Construction Products Association, Gove said that “five years on from the Grenfell Tragedy, there is little to suggest that manufacturers are ready to show leadership and play their part in bringing this unacceptable situation to an end”.
He warns: “The scale of this injustice should have spurred manufacturers into doing more, at speed, and it is disappointing that the sector appears instead to be using it as an excuse to do nothing, slowly.
“It is unacceptable that there has been no clear acknowledgement that actions taken by cladding and insulation manufacturers have contributed to the problem, and that manufacturers have individually and collectively failed to come forward with a proposal for playing their part in addressing it. As such, I now consider our negotiations to have concluded.
“I have instructed my officials to do whatever it takes to make sure that construction product manufacturers are held to account through the powers that I am establishing in the Building Safety Bill. My new recovery unit will pursue firms that have failed to do the right thing, including through the courts. I will consider carefully how to use other powers at my disposal to make sure that there are significant commercial and reputational consequences for those firms that have not stepped up.”