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Sun October 13 2019

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Government loses patience with cladding refuseniks

9 May The government has decided to step in to fund the replacement of dangerous flammable cladding on privately owned buildings.

A handful of private building owners and developers stepped up to the plate and did the right thing after the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire exposed the dangers of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding systems on high-rise buildings.

Following the Grenfell Tower fire, the government identified 176 private high-rise residential buildings with unsafe ACM cladding. According to the most recent data compiled by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, only 10 of these buildings have completed work to replace the cladding.

The good guys who have already fully funded the remediation of buildings are Pemberstone, Aberdeen Asset Management, Barratt Developments, Fraser Properties, Legal & General, Mace and Peabody.

However, there remain 166 high-rise residential buildings with dangerous ACM cladding. In many cases, the owners, builders and developers have spent the past two years insisting that it’s not their problem and the residents should pay for any remediation works.

While karma will doubtless eventually have its way with those businesses untroubled by morals, the government recognises that the residents cannot be expected to wait any longer. It has therefore stumped up £200m of taxpayers' money to replace ACM cladding on the remaining 166 private buildings. Building owners have been given three months to access the new fund.

The government is already fully-funding the replacement of unsafe ACM cladding on social sector properties.

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Prime minister Theresa May said: “It is of paramount importance that everybody is able to feel and be safe in their homes. That’s why we asked building owners in the private sector to take action and make sure appropriate safety measures were in place.

“And we’ve seen a number of private building owners doing the right thing and taking responsibility, but unfortunately too many are continuing to pass on the costs of removal and replacement to leaseholders.

“Today I can confirm we will now be fully funding the replacement of cladding on high-rise private residential buildings so residents can feel confident they are secure in their homes.”

Communities secretary James Brokenshire added: “Although temporary measures are in place to ensure people living in these buildings are safe, too many owners are treating this as a permanent fix. Others are trying to pass on the costs to residents by threatening them with bills running to thousands of pounds.

“While some building owners have been swift to act, and I thank them for doing the right thing, I am now calling time on the delay tactics of others. If these reckless building owners won’t act, the government will.”

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