Cladding

THE LONDON Assembly urged both the Mayor of London and the government to act, as ‘around two thirds’ of ‘high risk’ private residential buildings in the capital ‘have still not had cladding removed’.

Guardian Series reported on the assembly’s report, which ‘laid bare’ the ‘extent of London’s cladding crisis’, with many leaseholders finding ‘they cannot sell or remortgage’ properties as they are ‘deemed to have no sale value’, so are ‘trapped in homes that are potentially unsafe’. Among its recommendations are that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan should ‘provide a hub for residents and leaseholders to access legal advice and mental health support’.

In turn, it called on the government to extend its waking watch relief fund (https://www.thefpa.co.uk/news/government-announces-30m-waking-watch-fund) ‘to cover the cost of all temporary fire safety measures until required work is completed’, with London Fire Brigade having identified 590 high risk buildings that require such measures, and which it ‘must check on fortnightly’. As waking watch costs are ‘often falling on residents’, even despite the government funding, many buildings ‘still require’ an alarm as well.

The assembly was also concerned that the government’s £1.6bn funding for cladding remediation ‘is not reaching enough people’ because it only covers ‘the cost of removing cladding on buildings over 18m, or six storeys’. The report added that fire safety defects are ‘widespread’ across residential buildings below 18m, with leaseholders having to cover cladding removal costs themselves, ‘leaving many at risk of bankruptcy or the loss of their homes’.

Andrew Dismore, chairman of the assembly’s fire, resilience and emergency planning committee – which produced the report – commented: ‘The word cladding sends shivers down a homeowner’s spine. The impact that the cladding crisis is having on people cannot be underestimated. There is a lot of anger and anxiety amongst Londoners whose homes are impacted by cladding.

‘Londoners are either stuck in homes that are unsafe or they are stuck in homes that are no longer suitable for their families. The stress and strain is taking its toll on people. For those Londoners involved, the cladding crisis is part of their life from which there is no escape until the problem is fixed. This is one of many side effects that a lot of people forget.

‘Homeowners who bought their properties in good faith should not have to pick up the bill for something that is not their fault and entirely out of their control. In December 2020, the Mayor called for a new levy to be paid by private developers to help fund building safety. While this is a step in the right direction, Londoners need action now and our committee hopes the Mayor acts on the measures that are called for in this report.’

Read our article 'What is cladding?' here