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NEWS Government funding released for cladding removal


THE GOVERNMENT has released £248m of the promised £400m to councils and housing association for removing and replacing combustible aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding. In May, Prime Minister Theresa


May committed to spending around £400m to pay for the removal of flammable cladding from local authority and housing association high rises. The pace of response from the government was attacked as being ‘simply not good enough’, with details having emerged amid issues regarding councils requesting funding assistance, and the government was accused in parliament of breaking its pledge to help councils with funding. MPs wrote to the government to


implore it to ‘urgently release’ funds to ‘accelerate’ removal. Later on in 2018, it was also revealed that funding would come from funds allocated for affordable housing. Now, the government has released £248m of the £400m promised to 12 councils and 31 housing associations for the removal and replacement of ACM from 135 buildings, and the government stated that the release ‘is the first tranche’ of funding to help bodies ‘make their properties safe without having an impact on their other vital services’. Having received applications for 159 buildings, 135 from the councils and housing associations numbered above have been approved, with the government having ‘requested more information’ for 12 applications. This will be reviewed alongside any others received in December, with 12 other applications ‘not eligible for funding because they didn’t meet the application criteria’. Despite a nominal deadline of 31 August, applications received after it will still be reviewed. The government noted that this


was because ‘there is nothing more important than ensuring people are safe in their homes’, adding that due to work ongoing and costs only being estimates, 80% of the costs will be ‘provided upfront’ so that work


8


‘can start with no delay’. All work will be ‘closely monitored’ by the government, with the other 20% paid once works are complete and final costs are known. Construction News stated


that the rejections were due to buildings being under 18m, owned by commercial freeholders or not having ACM, while government data revealed that over 75% of social housing with ACM is currently seeing the material being removed and replaced ‘with plans in place for the remaining 25%’. A total of 159 social housing


blocks had ACM as of September, and 205 private blocks, with only two of the latter seeing removal and 12 seeing work started. Housing Secretary James Brokenshire commented: ‘There is nothing more important than ensuring people are safe in their homes and that is why I am pleased the £400m funding has started to be released. We are doing the right thing by residents and fully funding the replacement of unsafe ACM cladding in social housing buildings 18m or above. ‘In the private sector, I want to see landlords protect leaseholders from these costs. I am pleased that a number have stepped forward to do so, including Barratt Developments, Legal & General, Taylor Wimpey, Mace and Peabody. However, there are some who are not engaging in this process. If they don’t, I have ruled nothing out.’


DECEMBER 2018/JANUARY 2019 www.frmjournal.com


Inside Housing also reported that Camden Council has received £80m of the total funding to remove ACM from its high rises, with the council stating that funding will cover work being undertaken at the Chalcots Estate, which has had ACM removed but also has issues with curtain walling and windows. It was however ‘not clear’ if some of the money would also cover the cost of evacuating the estate, having the waking watch installed, or high fuel bills while the site is unclad. Council papers had also


suggested that the entire series of works on that estate’s five towers would cost between £50m and £56m, and residents have been sent a letter that said the council can complete the work ‘without impacting our wider programme of improvement and refurbishment of the rest of our housing stock, or our programme to build new council homes’. Georgia Gould, leader of Camden Council, said: ‘We are delighted to announce we have secured £80m from the government, which pays for the re-cladding and new curtain wall at the Chalcots as well as boosting our wider safety programme. We would like to thank all the residents who worked with us to make the case to government and reiterate our determination to ensure we follow through on our commitment for a new standard of resident safety.’


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