Billions on way for victims of the cladding scandal: Ministers finally pledge financial help for people hit with huge costs to repair fire-risk homes
- Robert Jenrick pledged assistance to those facing costs to repair fire-risk homes
- Plan no leaseholders in building above 18 metres will pay for cladding removal
- Not yet clear what help will be offered to those in blocks below 18m in height
Long-awaited help for victims of the cladding scandal will be announced by the Government today.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick will pledge state assistance for many of those hit with huge costs to repair their fire-risk homes.
Whitehall sources say under the plan no leaseholders in buildings above 18 metres or six storeys will have to pay for the removal of flammable cladding.
Mr Jenrick will say they will not have to pay a penny directly or indirectly, because freeholders will be banned from clawing back the cost of expensive repairs from leaseholders.
However, last night it was not clear what help would be given to leaseholders in blocks below 18m in height – the vast majority of those affected.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick will pledge state assistance for many of those hit with huge costs to repair their fire-risk homes. Pictured: Residents of the Green Quarter development in Manchester city centre
Around four million people are stuck in dangerous buildings, with more than a million flat-owners facing crippling costs for safety measures and special insurance.
The scandal has left families facing repair bills of up to £115,000, and without Government action hundreds of thousands of flats are unsellable.
The announcement comes a week after Boris Johnson told the Commons: ‘We are determined that no leaseholder should have to pay for the unaffordable costs of fixing safety defects that they didn’t cause and are no fault of their own.’
It is believed the cost of the cladding bailout from the Treasury could top £5billion. Ministers have also discussed a levy on construction firms to help foot the bill.
However, Tory MP Stephen McPartland, who has been campaigning on the issue, said he was concerned that thousands of people in lower-rise blocks will still be forced to take out loans.
‘It is clear [ministers] don’t have a grip on the situation and their incompetence is creating this problem,’ he said last night.
Last month the Mail also spoke to Lilli Houghton, 26, (pictured) who bought a flat in Leeds with her boyfriend for £145,000 in July 2018. A safety investigation later discovered flammable cladding, forcing her to pay an initial extra £960 in service charges
‘Millions of leaseholders are facing financial ruin and we will not accept loans to leaseholders. They are not a solution, they are a disgraceful betrayal.’
Paul Afshar, of the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign, said: ‘The psychological cost of living in firetrap flats is heavy enough to bear.
‘Now it looks like we will shortly be saddled with crippling 30-year loans, longer than our mortgages, to fix a problem we didn’t cause.
The Government needs to decide where its priorities lie. On the one side you have millions of leaseholders suffering sleepless nights for fear of £40,000 bills landing on their doorstep just to make their homes safe.
‘On the other, the largest developers who collectively have made more than £10billion in profit since the Grenfell fire. Rishi Sunak can and must do the right thing and properly fund cladding removal to make sure millions of voters can, once and for all, sleep safely at night.’
More than a million homeowners have been left unable to sell or remortgage their flats since the Grenfell Tower inferno in Kensington, west London, which killed 72 people in June 2017.
More than a million homeowners have been left unable to sell or remortgage their flats since the Grenfell Tower inferno in Kensington, west London, which killed 72 people in June 2017
Leaseholders face average costs of £40,000 each – and some of up to £115,000 – to replace dangerous cladding.
Panels sold without any fire training
The manager who sold flammable cladding for Grenfell Tower was given tough sales targets but no training on the product’s fire safety, an inquiry heard yesterday.
Deborah French was hired as the UK cladding sales manager by construction giant Arconic even though she had no knowledge of the product.
She sold panels with a combustible polyethylene core to contractors refurbishing the tower block in Kensington, west London. Speaking at the public inquiry into the disaster, Miss French said she attended a week-long induction at Arconic’s offices in France when she joined the firm.
She described being given ‘training on every aspect of sales’. However the 54-year-old said she was not given any technical training and instead had to learn ‘on the job’.
Just 216 out of an estimated 11,760 dangerous buildings have been fixed in the three-and-a-half years since the Grenfell fire.
The Daily Mail has launched a campaign calling on ministers to make homes safe within 18 months and spare leaseholders the cost.
Among those facing huge bills after cladding was deemed to be dangerous were leaseholders in Manchester’s Green Quarter, which the Mail highlighted last month.
Our campaign also calls for the companies responsible for the crisis to be made to pay their fair share.
Last week Barratt became the first housing developer to back a levy. Chief executive David Thomas said the industry had a ‘collective responsibility’ to cover the costs of the crisis.
The housing ministry is understood to be lobbying the Treasury for a £10billion pot, including the levy on developers.
But leaseholders fear the Government’s plans do not go far enough and will still lumber many of them with huge long-term loans.
Last month the Mail also spoke to Lilli Houghton, 26, who bought a flat in Leeds with her boyfriend for £145,000 in July 2018.
A safety investigation later discovered flammable cladding, forcing her to pay an initial extra £960 in service charges.
She then faced a bill for almost £3,000 last month – and was told the total cost of works for each flat could be as much as £43,000.
She said: ‘People are taught from a young age to save their money and get a foot on the property ladder.
‘Now this is just a complete slap in the face.’
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