A big win for leaseholders - but there's still a long way to go
Today, there is some much needed festive cheer for flat owners living in buildings with potentially dangerous cladding. The Government has announced that the deadline for its £1.6bn Building Safety Fund will be extended until next summer. This gives building owners more time to submit their applications for funding and means that instead of the March 2021 deadline for works to begin, projects now have a few more months - until 30 September - to start on site.
Announcing the changes, MHCLG have specifically asked that property managers who are responsible for submitting applications for funding, undertake a review of our buildings and ensure that only blocks which are likely to meet the technical eligibility requirements are registered with the fund. The Government also points out that an EWS1 form is not a substitute for a professional fire risk assessment, and that these must still be carried out by a competent professional.
Kingspan insulation has been under the microscope in recent weeks as the Grenfell inquiry continues. MHCLG now advises that where risk assessments have relied on the BS8414 tests for Kingspan materials, the wall system assessments should be reviewed in light of those being withdrawn.
An additional Christmas bonus also comes in the form of a new £30m fund to help building owners install fire alarm systems in blocks with a waking watch in place or where one is about to be set up. The fund will open in January so watch this space for more details when they are published.
This year, despite the stresses on our industry created by the pandemic, property stakeholders including ARMA and the IRPM aswell as leaseholder groups have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to try and bring the very serious problems being faced by millions of flat onwers around the country to the attention of government. The issue is now getting plenty of airtime on the radio and column inches in the press and questions are being asked in Parliament. At Ringley we have been involved in a number of events raising awareness of the issues around EWS1 forms and its a topic that we've blogged about many times in recent months.
All this hard work is now clearly paying off and an extension to the deadline for the non-ACM cladding fund is very welcome indeed. But a lot more funding will be needed if all the problems that have been unearthed by the Grenfell inquiry and Dame Judith Hackitt’s review into building safety are to be addressed. Fire safety in buildings is vital – but it's not all about the cladding. Issues around insulation, fire stopping, compartmentation and balconies all need the attention of the Government too – and the cash to tackle them.
Let’s hope for more good news in the New Year.
Author : Maryanne Bowring
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