Statement from Paul Dennett, Salford City Mayor and Chair of the Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force, following today's announcement of further Government funding for high-rise buildings.
Paul Dennett said: “Today’s announcement of further funding is a positive step but falls far short of what is needed to address the consequences of the national industrial and regulatory crisis. The Government has been given plenty of evidence as to the true costs of fixing the building safety crisis with the Homes, Communities and Local Government Committee reporting in the summer that £15 billion would be required for high rise buildings. The Government has topped up the existing £1.6bn announced of funds first announced in 2019 for ACM and 2020 for other cladding but the now £5bn figure will not put an end to the safety lottery.
“It is also disappointing that the Government is still failing to address the issue that fire does not recognise arbitrary height limits, and instead expects residents living in blocks under 18m to get into further debt to fund remediation work – this is not a solution. Whilst it is clear that many developers have profited from poorly constructed buildings and have failed to respond to Government’s calls “to do the right thing” more detail is needed on the proposals for a Developers Levy as this must be delivered in a way that doesn’t allow developers to simply push the costs onto buyers, reduce the quality of design or wriggle out of providing affordable housing and contributing to community infrastructure .
“It is almost four years since 72 people lost their lives at Grenfell Tower - a tragedy that must never be repeated. In that time, we in Greater Manchester have repeatedly told the Government the problem was not restricted to ACM cladding, not restricted to cladding systems and is not restricted to buildings over 18 metres.
“To date in Greater Manchester more than a quarter of high-rise buildings have identified serious fire safety failings requiring them to change the evacuation strategy and which relate to the original design and construction and an increasing number of smaller buildings are identifying serious problems.
“It cannot be right that residents who have bought a home in good faith should live in fear of a fire in their building and live in fear of bankruptcy to fix the failings of profit making developers many of whom have made billions in a period which has seen thousands of innocent leaseholders discover their homes and lives have been blighted.
“The scale of this crisis keeps growing and has been exacerbated by the Government’s failure to step up and take effective action. Residents tell me how they not only fear the bills for making their homes safe but are also being hit with unaffordable bills for short term fire safety measures and inflated insurance costs. Many buildings are struggling to obtain insurance cover and we have seen in many cases four-fold increases in insurance costs with some insurance premiums increasing ten-fold. In one case a resident has told me their quarterly service charge has increased from £400 to £6000 – these are devastating demands that many cannot afford.
“Whilst the Government has dithered and delayed on addressing the crisis the Treasury has benefited from the costs charged by residents. On the Government’s own assessment of waking watch costs of an average of £137 a month being charged to residents, the Treasury is taking £23. For every £100 increase in insurance the Treasury is taking £12 in Insurance Premium Tax – with insurance costs spiralling, in at least one case from £50,000 to over £500,000, this adds insult to injury for residents who cannot afford these bills.
“Anyone buying a home should be able to rely on the regulations set by Government that their home will be safe. I will continue to support all affected residents until the Government commits to ending this building safety crisis for all affected buildings. The announcement today is testament to the lobbying of Manchester Cladiators and other national groups who volunteer their time to support other residents and hold the Government to account.”
Article Published: 10/02/2021 18:21 PM