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Minister calls for a UK-wide approach to building safety

12 May 2022 3 minute read
Photo Welsh Government

Climate Change Minister Julie James has called on the UK Government to extend its England-only agreement with developers, which commits them to repairing defective buildings they were involved in building.

Last month thirty-five of the biggest property developers in the UK agreed to pay £5 billion towards fire safety remediation costs in England after UK ministers warned those who do not sign up for the voluntary pledge could be banned from carrying out new construction projects.

Julie James warned the current “unilateral approach” to building safety makes it harder to ensure developers take their responsibilities to contribute towards the costs of fixing building safety issues in Wales seriously.

In a statement to Members of the Senedd, Julie James said: “We continue to do everything in our power to repair building safety defects – without these costs falling on leaseholders – and to reform building safety law. But there are many things our governments can do to improve building safety on a UK basis.

“I was therefore deeply disappointed when the Secretary of State for Housing, Levelling Up and Communities Michael Gove announced an England-only developer pledge last month.

“The Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Local Government and Housing, Shona Robison and I have repeatedly called on the UK Government to adopt a UK-wide approach to the pledge.

“The UK Government’s unilateral approach to building safety issues makes it harder to ensure all developers take their responsibilities to contribute towards the costs of fixing building safety problems in Wales seriously.

“It inhibits our ability to hold developers and manufacturers to account for fixing their mistakes and it runs counter to the recent Review of Intergovernmental Relations.

“It also creates more confusion for residents at a time when they need consistency and clarity.”

Grenfell fire

In the aftermath of the Grenfell fire, 12 private and three social sector high-rise (18m) residential buildings were found to have the same non-compliant aluminium composite material cladding (ACM) as the Grenfell tower.

Work to remove and replace non-compliant ACM cladding has been successfully completed on the three social sector high-rise residential buildings and work has either started, or plans are in place to progress work on the 12 buildings in the private sector.

This work is being funded by buildings’ owners and developers.

The Welsh Government has earmarked £375m over the next three years to invest in building safety work and says it believes leaseholders should not have to pay towards these repairs.

It is also finalising plans for a Leaseholder Support Scheme, fund for leaseholders who are facing severe financial hardship as a result of costs relating to building defects.

The fund is being designed to help those people who are struggling financially and unable to sell their properties because of escalating costs associated with fire safety issues.

It will give eligible leaseholders access to the right support to meet their individual circumstances, including an option to sell their property and, where appropriate, to either move on or rent the property back.

More details of the scheme will be announced in June.

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