Welsh Government accused of lagging behind the rest of the UK on building safety
The Welsh Government has been accused of lagging behind the rest of the UK on building safety and is being urged to pursue a deal to get developers to contribute towards the cost of remedial work on properties affected by cladding and fire safety issues.
The UK Government secured an England-only deal with thirty-five major property developers last month after they agreed to pay £5 billion towards fire safety remediation costs, after ministers warned those who did not sign up for the voluntary pledge could be banned from carrying out new construction projects.
Last week the Scottish Government also confirmed developers will be expected to fund works to properties they built to address safety issues.
The Liberal Democrats claim the Welsh Government is “seriously out of step” with the rest of the UK in failing to agree a similar deal.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “It is simply unacceptable that Wales is being left so far out of step with the rest of the UK on the building safety scandal. Five years on from the Grenfell Disaster this issue still remains unsolved, it cannot go on like this.
“Labour must urgently force developers to the table and get them to commit to remediation action as we have seen in Scotland and England.
Cardiff Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr Rhys Taylor added: “We have people affected by the building fire safety scandal living less than a mile from the Senedd in Cardiff, yet we are still seeing an unacceptable lack of action from Welsh Labour.
“The Welsh Government must now provide urgent clarification over whether it intends to follow the lead of Scotland and England or continue to let victims down.”
Earlier this month Climate Change Minister Julie James, the minister responsible for housing, came under fire following comments made, during an interview with BBC Wales.
In response to a question of whether she feels she has been doing enough to “hold property developers’ feet to the fire?” with regard to getting them to pay towards the cost of fixing defective buildings she said that “I can’t threaten them with windfall tax levies and so on.”
Responding to the minister’s comments, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for housing and planning Mabon ap Gwynfor MS said: “Unscrupulous developers must pay for what is clearly their fault. The problems created by poor builds can often trap owners into poor quality flats and houses with no recourse, which has been the case with the cladding scandal.”
In the aftermath of the Grenfell fire, 12 private and three social sector high-rise (18m) residential buildings in Wales 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 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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