Industry reacts to government support measures for cladded buildings

Jake Carter

February 10, 2021

The industry has been reacting to the government’s announcement earlier today that they will provide a further £3.5bn in a bid to end the cladding scandal.

Gary Strong, global building standards director of RICS, pointed to the fact that whilst today’s funding news will be a welcome relief to leaseholders, the lack of affordable professional indemnity insurance (PII) is a very serious problem.

He said: “It is especially acute for professionals, such as chartered surveyors, who work in the built environment and are potentially exposed to fire safety related insurance claims.

“RICS has been working intensively with the government and the insurance industry to highlight the problem and press for a solution.”

Strong outlined that the government’s commitment to intervene in the insurance market, through a government backed PII product is to be welcomed and will likely increase the number of professionals able to complete external wall assessments.

He said: “This will be welcome news to leaseholders and homebuyers. We will continue to work with all parties to ensure the commitment is delivered on, urgently.”

During the discussion in the House of Commons, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick also guaranteed funding for the removal of dangerous cladding in all properties over 18 meters.

Strong said that this would deliver greater clarity and confidence to the housing market.

He said: “Alongside today’s announcements, our planned guidance note on the valuation of properties in multi storey residential apartment buildings, is currently in the final stage of development, following the recent consultation.

“The guidance should help further, as it will support greater consistency among valuers and their lender clients for when an EWS1 form is required, reducing the number of unnecessary delays.

“We call on lenders, insurers and fire safety bodies to support the guidance when it is issued.”

Kate Davies, executive director at IMLA believes the increased funding from the government is a step in the right direction, however outlined that as costs are likely to exceed £15bn, more needs to be done.

When expanding on the increased expected expenditure, Davies said that banks collectively paid out over £55bn in compensation to victims of PPI mis-selling, which did not pose a risk to lives or property.

Davies added: “It’s also disappointing that this support will only apply to buildings over 18 metres high.

“We know that many flat owners are trapped in stalemate situations where inspections have revealed safety issues which are going to need remediation.”

Davies went onto suggest that whilst the government unveiled a financing scheme to help those in low-rise properties, it is unacceptable that leaseholders should ultimately be expected to foot the bill.

She said: “This horrible issue has already been going on for too long – and risks dragging on for years – causing real misery for those caught up in it.

“We need some bold, brave steps to be taken now to rectify the structural problems.”

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