The next step in fire and cladding has emerged from the Government

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The Government has published its response to the Select Committee Report on the progress of cladding remediation following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. 

The full Government Response can be read in full here and the Select Committee Report can be viewed here published but the big points to take away are listed below.

Points to take away:

  • The Government expects the social and private sectors to contribute to the costs of remediation and not leave it to the Government remediation fund to foot the whole bill;
  • Building owners are expected to foot the bill and recover costs from developers and contractors, not from leaseholders;
  • Michael Wade is tasked with working with leaseholders and financial institutions to cover historical remediation costs not covered by the remediation fund;
  • Remediation works on-site must start by the end of 2020and finish by the end of 2021;
  • The Select Committee wanted the Government to take control of the EWS1 process but there is clearly a reluctance to do so. Instead, there is an acknowledgement that the EWS1 form in its current format isn’t working so a review is underway to see how the process can be made quicker and fairer;
  • The Government is putting pressure on mortgage lenders to stop penalising leaseholders by refusing access to preferential deals pending the EWS1 form being available;
  • The Government is working with insurers to understand the issues and specifically how they assess risk so that products can be made available;
  • There is a call for more information about cladding issues and fire risk to be shared with leaseholders by those responsible (building owner, managing agent etc) and a new form is being developed for leaseholders to raise concerns directly to MHCLG about lack of information or lack of progress in their development; and
  • The Government is moving forward with the Building Safety Bill to strengthen oversight in the regulatory regime for construction products and is establishing a Construction products Standards Committee to look at whether voluntary industry standards should become law and to look at the current testing regime for products as well as innovation.

Final thought

Neither the Select Committee Report nor the Government Response will be welcome news for developers in the high rise arena who have been battling a changing landscape and moving goalposts since the Grenfell tragedy. Whilst the demand for remediation work to have started in 2020 and finished in 2021 might be popular with MPs and the public, it sounds more like a Christmas wish list. Needless to say, it doesn’t take into account the reality that there is very little capacity nationally amongst fire engineers to plan and supervise these works, little capacity amongst contractors to get started on site, and limited availability of suitable replacement products for the projects already identified let alone those in the pipeline for consideration. 

Our experienced team have been working with building owners, developers, contractors and managing agents on schemes across the country dealing with the remediation claims, construction disputes and fire enforcement issues that arise. If you have an issue, we are here to help.

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