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 15 December 2021

The Building Safety Bill requires an independent person to review building and construction products regulatory regimes. This could cover what went wrong and if the new system has resolved the issues.

Read the response in full

The Building Safety Bill requires an independent reviewer to consider the effectiveness of the building and construction products regulatory regimes. The Secretary of State can direct the reviewer to consider particular issues, which could include how the historic system went wrong, and whether the new system has resolved the prior issues. The Secretary of State must appoint this person within five years of the Bill receiving Royal Assent and within five years of the previous appointment thereafter.

The clause does not specify with whom the reviewer must consult when conducting the review, allowing them to consult widely around matters connected to the broadly stated terms. The independent reviewer may choose to accept evidence from any interested party.

The 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. The Bill improves protections for leaseholders by legally requiring building owners to prove they have tried all routes to cover the cost of essential safety works before passing them onto leaseholders.

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 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 ACM cladding and £734m has been allocated from the non-ACM Building Safety Fund (BSF) so far, with 689 registrations to the Fund proceeding with a full application. Owners of around 65,000 homes 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. The 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. A new Residential Property Developer Tax will apply to the largest residential property developers and aims to raise at least £2bn over 10 years.

Given the provisions described as above, the Government does not feel it is necessary to launch a public inquiry at this time.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/587185)

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

Get involved

You can also sign up to the UK Parliament newsletter for the latest information on how to get involved and make a difference: https://learning.parliament.uk/en/your-uk-parliament-newsletter-sign-up-form/

Original Government response

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.

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

This response was given on 12 November 2021. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.

Effect of remediation works on residents of high rise buildings debated by MPs

On Wednesday 2 March, MPs debated the effect of remediation works on residents of high rise buildings. This was a Westminster Hall debate, and was opened by Tom Hunt MP.

During the debate, MPs discussed:

  • the fire safety concerns of leaseholders living in high rise buildings with unsafe cladding,

  • the support needed by those faced with the high cost of work to address these concerns, and

  • the impact that these remediation works are having on leaseholders and tenants.

Watch the debate: https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/e8a2aab2-9dee-4c14-985e-aedb99daa1b4

Read the transcript: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2022-03-02/debates/5DBE9B6C-8FC8-42E4-810C-6B34AB8071E2/High-RiseBuildingsRemediation

What is a Westminster Hall debate?

Westminster Hall is the second chamber of the House of Commons. Westminster Hall debates give MPs an opportunity to raise local and national issues and receive a response from a government minister. Westminster Hall debates are general debates that do not end in a vote.

Find out more about Westminster Hall debates: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/debates/westminster-hall-debates/

Get involved in the work of the UK Parliament

You can sign up to the UK Parliament newsletter for the latest information on how to get involved and make a difference: https://learning.parliament.uk/en/your-uk-parliament-newsletter-sign-up-form/

Leaseholders and social housing tenants should not foot the bill for safety works, say MPs

The MPs on the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee have published a report on Building Safety: Remediation and Funding. This report is the Committee’s response to the plans outlined by Michael Gove, Secretary of State of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, in his announcement to the House of Commons on 10 January. At the end of its inquiry the cross-party Committee found that many leaseholders will fall through the cracks of the Government’s “piecemeal measures” to protect leaseholders from the costs of building safety remediation.

Read the Committee’s report: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5802/cmselect/cmcomloc/1063/report.html

In their report, the Committee makes a series of recommendations to the Government, including calls to:

  • Scrap the proposed cap on non-cladding costs for leaseholders;
  • Implement a Comprehensive Building Safety Fund to cover the costs of remediating all building safety defects on any buildings of any height where the original “polluter” cannot be traced;
  • Compensate leaseholders for costs already paid out, including for interim measures and for rises in insurance premiums;
  • Require all relevant parties who played a role in the building safety crisis to contribute to funds for remediation; and
  • Ensure the Affordable Homes Programme is protected at its current level and that social housing tenants do not pay the price through costs or diversion of funds away from maintaining their homes or other vital services.

The inquiry

The Committee launched its inquiry “Building safety: remediation and funding” on 31 January 2022. The purpose of the inquiry has been to:

  • examine the effectiveness and impact of the Government’s planned measures to make developers and industry cover the costs of remediation;
  • scrutinise whether the Secretary of State’s approach goes far enough to finally fix this crisis; and
  • examine what the funding arrangement to be agreed with industry should look like.

Find out more about the inquiry, including the written and oral submissions received: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/6451/building-safety-remediation-and-funding/

What is the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee?

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that look into the work of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Find out more about the Committee:
https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/17/levelling-up-housing-and-communities-committee/

Follow the Committee on Twitter for updates on its work:
https://twitter.com/CommonsLUHC

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee is a select committee. Find out how select committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Costs of building safety remediation debated by MPs

On Wednesday 22 June, MPs took part in a Westminster Hall debate on the financial effects of building safety remediation on leaseholders. The debate was led by Shabana Mahmood MP, and Housing Minister Stuart Andrew MP responded for the Government.

During the debate, MPs highlighted the impact of cladding safety issues on leaseholders' mental health and financial situations. They also discussed reforms the Government has made to building safety and insurance, and action the Government is taking to encourage building owners to fix existing cladding issues.

Watch the debate: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/9c1c3549-e109-4760-89a5-d54218c71b52?in=15:59:59

Read the transcript of everything that was said in the debate: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2022-06-22/debates/F45D492E-BC18-47FB-9F0F-52C7D1F5A414/BuildingSafetyRemediationLeaseholders

What is a Westminster Hall debate?

Westminster Hall is the second chamber of the House of Commons. Westminster Hall debates give MPs an opportunity to raise local and national issues and receive a response from a government minister. Westminster Hall debates are general debates that do not end in a vote.

Find out more about Westminster Hall debates: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/debates/westminster-hall-debates/

Get involved in the work of the UK Parliament

Sign up to the UK Parliament newsletter for the latest information on how to get involved and make a difference: https://parliament.us16.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=3ad7e4c57a864f07e4db008c4&id=26d0645ea9