Sheffield politicians brand extra £3.5 billion for cladding removal from high-rise buildings a‘ big disappointment’
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The announcement was made by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick who said it was the “largest ever government investment” in building safety and means those living in the buildings will not have to pay.
It comes as many thousands of flat-owners face huge bills for fire-safety improvements – brought in after 2017’s Grenfell Tower fire when flames spread via combustible cladding, killing 72 people.
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 Housing, Communities and Local Government committee chair, said: “In terms of the selection committee’s recommendations it does of course only go so far.
“I would like the secretary of state to come back to the selection committee to discuss this issue in more detail shortly after the recess.”
Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, has campaigned on the issue.
He said: “Today’s package will be a big disappointment to people who’ve bought flats in unsafe buildings across the city. It breaks the government’s promise that they would face no costs fixing the problems for which they’re not responsible.
“While the government has offered a little more money to remove cladding, there’s no real help with all the other major building safety issues or for those in buildings under 18 metres high. They still face bills of tens of thousands of pounds to make good the mistakes of the developers who built their homes.
“It’s not the generous package ministers have claimed, but leaves hundreds of people in Sheffield trapped in unsafe flats with unaffordable bills. I’ve written to the Housing Secretary today to urge him to deal with all the outstanding problems.”
Councillor Douglas Johnson, City ward representative and leader of Sheffield Green Party, said: “Thousands of people in Sheffield are living with huge worry and uncertainty – regardless of what the government says. Fire safety and rocketing service charges are taking a horrible toll on people’s mental health. It is an appalling situation – people should be able to live safely in their own homes.
“Government has acted far too slowly. It’s not just the money: there needs to be reform of the land ownership and leasehold system. We have a situation where the building owners call the shots but don’t have any incentive to make peoples’ homes safe. That can’t be allowed to continue.
“Government may be spending large sums of money – notionally to support leaseholders but really it is being paid over to the building owners to improve their investments. There needs to be a shift to the ‘polluter pays’ principle where those responsible for shortcuts, dishonest or shoddy construction and inadequate regulation are held responsible.”