Government’s handling of the cladding crisis under fire
The chairwoman of an influential House of Commons Select Committee has demanded the Ministry of Housing end the “misery and uncertainty” facing thousands of leaseholders in unsafe apartment buildings.
Reported here: Meg Hillier MP, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, said that the government had spectacularly failed in its handling of the cladding crisis, with its post-Grenfell initiatives little more than “pie-in-the-sky promises” because the Ministry of Housing could not “plan, resource, or deliver”.
“Thousands of people have been condemned to lives of stress and fear in unsaleable homes with life-changing bills: for the works and for the fire-watch that is necessary to allow them to sleep at night until it is done,” she said.
“The government must step up and show that it will put a stop to the bickering over who is responsible, who’s going to pay for the remediation – and just put this right.”
Ironically Meg Hillier is herself a leaseholder in a cladding site where the original developer has agreed to cover the cost of remediation.
The Committee’s report goes on to lay the blame at the door of the Ministry of Housing’s regulatory system which has materially disadvantaged purchasers of flats, despite being told by officials that the construction industry was to blame for dangerous flats.
In its report, the PAC also determined it was “unacceptable” that 300 high-rise blocks are still encased in aluminium composite material (ACM) more than three years since the same cladding caused the deaths of 72 people in west London’s Grenfell Tower.
Zah Azeem, Partner at Scrivener Tibbatts concludes: “The problem for owners trying to sell their flats in buildings over 18m high is that all mortgage lenders now require an EWS1 form, confirming that the building is compliant with new fire safety regulations.
“The bad news is, that whilst now might be a great time to sell a property there are only 291 suitably approved experts across the UK capable of inspecting a high rise development and issuing EWS1s. So the waiting time for an inspection can in most cases be months.
“It gets worse. In approximately 90 per cent of cases these inspections reveal that such buildings require further remediation work in order to be saleable and receive an EWS1. So much for the government achieving its target of June 2020 for the removal of Grenfell-style cladding from all high rise buildings.
“It seems that if you want to get ahead of the queue it doesn’t hurt to be an MP.”
You can download the whole of Public Accounts Committee report here.
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