Sheffield housing committee calls for meeting on ‘unfair’ cladding package
Sheffield MP Clive Betts claims a £3.5 billion fund for the removal and replacement of cladding on buildings above 18 metres does not go far enough.
The announcement was made by Robert Jenrick, housing secretary, in Parliament who said it was the “largest ever government investment” in building safety.
It comes as many thousands of flat-owners face huge bills for fire-safety improvements brought in after the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Mr Jenrick also announced a new levy on developers of future high rises to cover the cost of grants, a separate new tax on residential property developments in the UK from 2022 and that owners of flats in lower-rise blocks would have to access loans to replace unsafe cladding but would not have to pay more than £50 a month for them.
Joining the Commons virtually, Clive Betts, MP for Sheffield South East and chair of the Housing Select Committee, said: “In terms of the selection committee’s recommendations it does of course only go so far.”
He sought for confirmation no leaseholder will be put into negative equity as a result of the loan scheme, non-cladding costs will still be included in this relief, and local authorities and housing associations were not eligible for this package – forcing them to drive up rents. The minister was not able to confirm any of these points.
In a statement the Select Committee said: “The increase in the level of support the government is providing to support the removal of cladding in certain circumstances is welcome. However, the arbitrary difference in the level of support depending on whether an individual lives in a building of five or six stories is unfair. These problems are not of leaseholders making and a situation where different blocks in the same development will get different support creating a two tier system of support cannot be right.
“The devil will be in the detail and the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee will look closely at the proposals to understand the true impact, particularly what support there will be for housing associations and local authorities.”
Mr Betts invited Robert Jenrick to meet with the committee to get further details on this package and examine what more can be done.