Good news for Eastbourne residents living with ‘unsafe’ building cladding

It was announced this week that the removal of unsafe cladding in high-rise buildings will be paid for by the government, to the relief of many Eastbourne residents living with the problem.

Friday, 12th February 2021, 11:31 am

Hundreds of thousands of leaseholders will be protected from the cost of replacing unsafe cladding on their homes now because of a five-point plan that was revealed on February 10, which the MP for Eastbourne, Caroline Ansell, has welcomed after months of campaigning on behalf of residents. There are currently around 40 buildings in Eastbourne that have the cladding.

Speaking to the House of Commons Mrs Ansell said, “Too many people in Eastbourne have suffered the stress and the strain of looming costs and today there will be some relief at the announcement that my right honourable friend has made.

“It is a significant intervention and I look forward to seeing the details. It recognises fairness and balance, and I welcome that also.”

Several proprties in Sovereign Harbour have the cladding. Photo by Robert Stanborough. SUS-211202-091127001
Several proprties in Sovereign Harbour have the cladding. Photo by Robert Stanborough. SUS-211202-091127001

With £5 billion investment in building safety, including £3.5 billion announced on this week, the housing secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed to the House of Commons that the government will fully fund the cost of replacing unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in residential buildings 18 metres/six storeys and over in England.

This specification was decided because Home Office analysis of fire and rescue service statistics shows buildings between 18-30 metres are four times more likely to suffer a fire with fatalities or serious casualties. Lower-rise buildings between 11-18 metres, with a lower risk to safety, will have access to loans to replace the cladding which will come to a maximum for £50 each month.

Mrs Ansell also asked Mr Jenrick what further work would be done to help leaseholders facing costs in relation to other fire safety defects.

She said, “My honourable friend is right to raise the fact that other building safety defects, which we have spoken about in the past, have also come to light, whether that is fire blocks, insulation or fire doors.

Caroline Ansell welcomes the news

“Some of those works will need to be done, taking a proportionate, risk-based approach, where there is a true risk to life, so that the bill for the leaseholders is not disproportionate.

“We also, of course, want to see the building owners step up and pay for those works. Where there has been poor workmanship, the building owner needs to take responsibility, and we will continue to do everything we can to support leaseholders to pursue those claims.”

The government is also working to reduce the need for EWS1 forms – allowing hundreds of thousands of homes to be sold, bought, or re-mortgaged once again.

A new tax will also be introduced for the UK residential property development sector so the largest property developers are making a fair contribution to the cladding remediation programme.

The 2017 Grenfell fire revealed the danger cladding can pose

This tax means at least £2 billion will be raised in a decade to deal with the cladding costs.

The government says it will protect future generations from similar mistakes by introducing legislation which tightens the regulations around building safety to prevent malpractice arising again.

All these new measures mean people living in homes which they have been prevented from selling or re-mortgaging, through no fault of their own, will now be able to move on if they want.

Following the announcements Mrs Ansell said, “Overall, I am pleased with the government’s improved response and the extra money which will do much to relieve hardship and stress for many people in Eastbourne.

“It is also right that developers should be pursued for money. It is not right leaseholders should pay but, equally, taxpayers should not be footing the entire bill too.

“I have still to look at all the details of the announcement but I am concerned that some leaseholders may fall through the cracks even now. If that is the case, then I will continue to champion their cause with ministers.”