Government’s £3.5bn flammable cladding fund 'a slap in the face', says Sheffield flat owner

A Sheffield student has described the Government's £3.5bn flammable cladding bailout as ‘a slap in the face’ that will still leave thousands of people facing huge bills and possible bankruptcy.

Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 7:29 pm

Housing Minister Robert Jenrick today described the fund as the ‘largest ever government investment’ in building safety – and also announced plans for a new levy and tax on housebuilders to help pay for it.

The fund was created to help the thousands of flat-owners who were found to be living in unsafe buildings after 2017’s Grenfell Tower fire in which 72 people died due to flammable cladding.

But several Sheffield MPs said the fund was far too small and would still leave thousands of homeowners facing bills they will never be able to afford.

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Alexander Deane.
Alexander Deane.

Sheffield Hallam University student Alexander Deane, aged 30, bought his property at the Wicker Riverside building a year and a half ago, but had to leave his flat before Christmas after the building failed a fire safety check.

He said that while the Government's pledge to help leaseholders with the costs of unsafe cladding was welcome, the fund would not cover the costs of the wide range of additional work that was required.

This includes missing fire breaks in the external walls, internal compartmentation issues, insufficient smoke ventilation and possibly unsafe balconies – all of which could run into tens of thousands of pounds.

Alexander said: “We don’t want to appear ungrateful but it is still going to mean huge bills for leaseholders. It feels like a bit of a slap in the face.

The Wicker Riverside in Sheffield.

“We are still in the position where we are going to have to pay for something that we haven’t done and are going to be facing bills for thousands and thousands of pounds.

“The Government are now saying they have sorted everything out but we are not actually that much better off.”

Alexander said that the Wicker Riverside residents had been fortunate that the building was more than 18 metres tall, meaning they did qualify for help under the Government scheme.

But he added that he felt ‘really sorry’ for anyone in smaller buildings who will have to apply for loans to be repayed at a rate of £50 per month.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.