Campaigners and trade bodies united over inadequacies in Building Safety Bill | News

Campaigners and trade bodies united over inadequacies in Building Safety Bill

Both the End our Cladding Scandal campaigning group and the National Housing Federation have released statements regarding the Building Safety Bill, urging the government to go further.

The End Our Cladding Scandal group said Government had “cynically devised a means of devesting themselves” from the responsibility of who pays for remediation.

Many more took to Twitter to vent their frustrations at what they see as little action being taken.

The National Housing Federation were not keen on it either, saying “many questions remain about what will happen in practice.”

For the campaigning group, they said “the Government still seems scared of getting a group on this nightmare that has blighted our lives for years”.

Adding: “There have been many leaked headlines over the past 24 hours pushing the Bill’s top lines —that it will introduce a new era of accountability, that there will be tougher sanctions for those who fail to meet their obligations and that there will be protection for leaseholders in the future. These we — very cautiously — welcome and we, along with every affected leaseholder, will be carefully scrutinising the Bill over the coming few days.

“But with all the talk of future accountability, what must not be forgotten are the leaseholders of today, the innocent people facing financial ruin and mental anguish over being forced to live in unsafe homes. How will this Bill truly help the hundreds of thousands like them?”

They also hit out at the plans to allow leaseholders to take their developer to court over historic defects as “David and Goliath battle” that will never come to pass with leaseholders “already struggling with waking watch bills, exorbitant insurance hikes and enormous remediation costs.”

They conclude: “In line with this Government’s general approach to the building safety crisis, the focus seems to be on managing the news cycle and allaying the concerns of the growing number of Conservative backbench MPs who recognise that homeowners are not being treated fairly.

“Ministers and two Prime Minister have promised more than 17 times in Parliament that they would protect leaseholders from costs. During the recent Fire Safety Bill ping-pong, the repeated response was that the Building Safety Bll is the place where the “who pays” argument should be focused. Now, it seems they have cynically devised a means of divesting themselves from that responsibility.”

Victoria Moffett, Head of Building and Fire Safety Programmes at the National Housing Federation said: “We welcome the publication of the Bill as an important milestone. It is the next step in overhauling the building safety regulatory system to make sure a tragedy like the fire at Grenfell Tower never happens again.  

“It’s positive to see the government acknowledge today that private developers are ultimately responsible for the poor workmanship which has led to so many safety issues. And, that these developers should therefore cover the costs of the work, rather than homeowners or those in social housing.  

“But many questions remain about what will happen in practice. 

 

“Giving leaseholders longer to pursue private developers for compensation could help some people, but unfortunately not everyone who is struggling to pay enormous building safety bills. There was also no announcement about other financial support for leaseholders today. 

“The government has rightfully made it a legal requirement for building owners to pursue all other options before passing any building safety costs on to leaseholders. 

“Not-for-profit housing associations have already been doing this but we are concerned to hear of cases where they have not been successful and housing associations will have no other choice but to still pass on costs to homeowners or shared owners in their buildings.  

“There was also no funding for housing associations remediating social housing announced today. Charitable housing associations have so far been unable to access existing government funds.

“They are already diverting billions of pounds away from the upkeep of their social homes and away from building new social housing in order to make safe homes they bought in good faith. 

“If the government want to avoid bills being passed on to homeowners and fewer affordable homes getting built over the next decade, they will need to cover all building safety costs upfront and claim the costs back later from the companies they acknowledge are responsible - such as private developers.”