New research shows impact of building safety crisis on house building

National Housing Federation research shows that one in ten new affordable homes to rent or buy in England can no longer be built because of the costs of fixing fire safety defects.

The NHF surveyed 106 housing associations, with 61 reporting that they have discovered dangerous materials on their buildings since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. This is despite those buildings having been signed off as meeting building requirements at the time they were built.

The NHF estimates that housing associations will have to spend more than £10 billion to make all their buildings safe over the next decade.  

The NHF said: Without additional funding for safety work, these not-for-profit organisations are having to cut plans to build 12,900 new affordable homes over the next 5 years, in order to prioritise spending on building safety.”

Newsnight continued its investigation into the building safety crisis as Lewis Goodall reported on the show on 20 October: “The total cumulative cost to housing associations and local authorities could be £18 billion in the coming years to rebuild homes they already have rather than building new ones.”

He spoke to Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation about their research. She said: “If the government doesn’t step in, the money for this remediation work will be diverted away from much needed affordable housing, but also from investing in our existing homes.”

Mounting building safety costs are also affecting housing associations’ ability to invest in the upkeep of the homes they already own, where social housing residents live. The NHF survey showed that housing associations will have to divert £730m away from routine maintenance work, such as upgrading bathrooms or kitchens, to pay for essential building safety work.

Ms Henderson added: “Housing associations did not build these buildings, and what we have found is a complete failure in construction and a failure in some of the products, including flammable cladding. This is not housing associations’ fault; it is not social residents’ fault and it is not the leaseholders’ fault. That is why we need the government to step in, to fund the upfront costs of building safety and to recoup that from those responsible.”