Cladding crisis: light at the end of the tunnel?
Clive Betts: Homeowners caught up in the cladding crisis should no longer have to face stress and financial hardship.
At last some good news on the cladding crisis for homeowners trapped in high rise blocks clad in dangerous materials. We hope. Today, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee is calling for an absolute commitment to ensure that all buildings of any height with ACM cladding should be fully remediated of all fire safety defects by December 2021. And buildings with other forms of dangerous cladding should have all fire safety defects removed by June 2022.
The select committee?s report, Cladding: progress of remediation, criticises the government?s handling of the cladding crisis. It says government must accept that the £1 billion pledged so far will be insufficient. It must be prepared to meet the cost of making sure buildings are safe, and that includes tackling other fire safety issues, such as inadequate fire doors and missing fire breaks.
As we have highlighted in this blog before, flat owners around the country are living in homes that they can?t sell. And many people are paying huge bills every month for waking fire watches as well as being hit by costs that run into tens of thousands of pounds for the remedial work that is needed on their blocks.
Not only is the financial impact of the cladding crisis on flat owners unacceptable but the mental health of those affected is also at risk. A recent survey carried out by Inside Housing reveals that the mental health of nine out of 10 residents facing cladding issues has deteriorated as a direct result. More than a quarter of those polled have been given a formal diagnosis of a new mental health condition, while 35% have experienced a worsening of existing conditions. Most shocking of all, 124 people surveyed have considered self-harm or suicide.
Today's report concludes that residents cannot be expected to go on meeting the exorbitant costs of temporary fire safety measures while they wait for work to be completed. The Government should provide funding support for ongoing ?waking watch? fire patrols and fire alarms.
Chairman of the select committee, Labour MP Clive Betts says: ?It is time for the Government to commit to end the scourge of dangerous cladding once and for all. A piecemeal approach that will see homeowners facing many more years of stress and financial hardship? is not an option.?
We wholeheartedly agree. And, just a few days before the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, the penny has finally dropped that residents should not have to pay for others' mistakes. The report is clear that leaseholders should not be expected to foot the bill for remediation and that the government needs to step in with more money This conclusion has taken some time but it is very welcome. Let's hope action will now be taken to solve a problem that has gone on for far too long.
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Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
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