On 10 January 2022 the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, wrote to the residential property developer industry and warned developers that they must pay to fix the cladding crisis that they caused. Mr Gove has giving them a deadline of early March to agree a fully funded plan of action including remediating unsafe cladding on 11-18 metre buildings, currently estimated to be £4 billion. He warned that he will take all steps necessary to make this happen, including restricting access to government funding and future procurements, the use of planning powers and the pursuit of companies through the courts. He added that if industry fails to take responsibility, the government will if necessary impose a solution in law.
On the same day the Secretary of State made a statement to Parliament resetting the Government’s approach to building safety and guaranteeing that no leaseholder living in their own flat will have to ‘pay a penny’ to fix unsafe cladding. Mr Gove outline a four-point plan:
- Opening up the next phase of the Building Safety Fund to drive forward taking dangerous cladding off high-rise buildings, prioritising the Government’s £5.1 billion funding on the highest risk
- Those at fault will be held properly to account: a new team is being established to pursue and expose companies at fault, making them fix the buildings they built and face commercial consequences if they refuse
- Restoring common sense to building assessments: indemnifying building assessors from being sued; and withdrawing the old, misinterpreted government advice that prompted too many buildings being declared as unsafe; and
- New protections for leaseholders living in their own flats: with no bills for fixing unsafe cladding and new statutory protections for leaseholders within the Building Safety Bill.