Closed petition Hold a full and independent inquiry into the cladding and fire safety scandal

Figures suggest 1.9 million leaseholders are now considered "mortgage prisoners". Government blames builders, builders blame building regulation, inspectors blame builders. Innocent leaseholders have a right to know who was responsible for one of the greatest building scandals in UK history.

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Leaseholder law means leaseholders face crippling waking watch building insurance costs. They must also pay towards cladding, missing fire breaks, faulty fire doors etc. Having bought apartments in good faith, following correct legal process, they face ruinous costs through no making of their own.

Mental stress, depression and unable to sell, lives have been put on hold and their personal stories are heartbreaking.

They deserve a full and independent inquiry into how this happened.

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Government responded

This response was given on 12 November 2021

The Building Safety Bill is legislating to put right the systemic faults identified in Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review into Fire and Building Safety and will create a more accountable system.

Read the response in full

Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review into Fire and Building Safety identified systemic faults in the building safety system. The Building Safety Bill is legislating to put this right and ensure a more accountable system for the future. The Bill improves protections for leaseholders by requiring building owners to consider other cost recovery routes for remediation before passing them onto leaseholders. If this does not happen, leaseholders will be able to challenge these costs in the courts. 

Those responsible for shoddy workmanship that has caused homes to be unsafe bear the responsibility to put those problems right. While some parts of industry have done the right thing and funded the remediation of serious defects, too many are seeking to avoid their responsibilities. That is why we are taking action to extend legal rights to redress for shoddy workmanship. The changes we are making will enhance the ability of building owners, homeowners, and leaseholders to seek compensation for defective work carried out on their properties.

Through the Bill, we are retrospectively extending the limitation period under section 1 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 from six to 15 years. This change will provide a legal route to redress that previously would not have been possible for many thousands of residents.

The Bill will also make Accountable Persons responsible for the management of building safety risks of high-rise residential buildings. Residents will have an established route, via the Principal Accountable Person to raise safety concerns about their building, with a further right to escalate safety-related complaints to the Building Safety Regulator.    

The Building Safety Regulator will make buildings safer by enforcing the stringent new regulatory regime for high-rise residential and other in scope buildings, oversee the safety and performance of all buildings, and increase the competence of those working across the built environment.  

The Bill also paves the way for a national regulator for construction products with robust enforcement and market surveillance capability to oversee a stronger and clearer construction products regulatory regime which will require construction products to be safe and will introduce more stringent requirements on safety critical products. 

We are committing over £5bn to help fund the cost of replacing unsafe cladding for leaseholders in residential buildings 18 metres and over. Of this we have already allocated almost £1.2bn to make homes safe. £463m has already been allocated to remediate ‘Grenfell’ type ACM cladding and £734m has been allocated from the non-ACM Building Safety Fund so far, with 689 registrations to the Fund proceeding with a full application. This means that owners of around 65 thousand homes and properties within high-rise blocks are covered by eligible BSF applications.

We have targeted public funding at the buildings we know to be at greatest risk if a fire spreads. This is in line with expert advice that the fire risk is lower in buildings under 18m and costly remediation work is usually not needed. Where fire risks are identified, they should always be managed proportionately. The new Secretary of State for DLUHC is looking closely at this issue afresh to make sure everything is being done to support leaseholders and has met with cladding groups to further understand their concerns. Further detail on the support offer for leaseholders in residential buildings of 11-18 metres will be released when all options have been fully considered.

We recognise residents’ concerns about the cost of Waking Watch measures. That is why we are providing £35m funding to cover interim safety costs in buildings with unsafe cladding. Common alarm systems will enable costly waking watch measures to be replaced in buildings waiting to have unsafe cladding removed. £24.1m of funding has already been provided or approved, covering 281 buildings. We estimate that over 22,000 leasehold dwellings will benefit from the fund. By fitting an alarm, leaseholders are expected to save on average £144 per month.

We are introducing a new levy and tax to make sure that industry makes a fair contribution to the costs of fixing historical fire safety defects, including unsafe cladding. The building safety levy will be on developers at the building control application stage of design and construction, “Gateway two” of the new building safety regime.

The levy is in addition to a new Residential Property Developer Tax that will apply to the largest residential property developers. The Residential Property Developer Tax aims to raise at least £2bn over 10 years.

Mental health is a key Government priority. We are working across Government to make sure that everyone can get the support they need. Where residents of buildings fitted with flammable cladding need mental health support, they should contact their GP so they can be referred to mental health services as appropriate.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Other parliamentary business

MPs investigate cladding remediation

In June 2020 the House of Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Committee conducted an inquiry on the progress of cladding remediation and the funding for remediating fire safety defects.
 
Following the Government’s announcement in February of additional funding for cladding remediation, the HCLG Committee took further evidence and published a follow-up report with additional recommendations for Government.

You can find out more about the work the committee have done for this inquiry, including future announcements about the inquiry here: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/1054/cladding-remediation-followup/

Cladding remediation follow-up inquiry

The committee has taken evidence to determine the steps needed to ensure that leaseholders and tenants are protected from bearing the costs of historical building safety defects.

In March 2021 the committee published a follow-up report which examined progress on recommendations suggested to the Government by the committee in a report on cladding remediation published in June 2020.

Read the Committee's March 2021 follow-up report on cladding remediation: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5801/cmselect/cmcomloc/1249/124902.htm

Read the Committee's June 2020 report on cladding remediation: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5801/cmselect/cmcomloc/172/17202.htm

Related work by the HCLG Committee

In addition to the reports the Committee has published on cladding remediation, the committee has also:

  • Questioned the Secretary of State on cladding as part of a wider session on the work of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
  • Conducted scrutiny of the Building Safety Bill
  • Secured a debate in the House of Commons on building safety

You can read more about it on their website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/17/housing-communities-and-local-government-committee/

What is the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee?

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee scrutinises the work of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. It examines government policy, spending and administration on behalf of the electorate and the House of Commons. It's a cross-party committee and is independent of the Government.

You can get updates on their work by following the committee on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/commonshclg

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how select committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

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