The pace of making homes safe must significantly accelerate from today. The government, construction industry and building owners must all be held to account to ensure a swift solution. Fire won’t wait and we are dicing with another catastrophe with every passing day. 

The government must prioritise making homes safe, with the urgency it deserves. 
  • All buildings must have a remediation plan in place by June 2024 and there must be clear deadlines for completion of remediation work.
  • The scope of government grant funding schemes must be widened to ensure buildings can be made fully safe, including remediation of non-cladding defects, and they should also cover mitigation measures such as sprinklers wherever these are recommended by holistic risk assessments. In simple terms: funding should match the risk.
  • There should be clear KPIs to monitor the end-to-end operation of government funding schemes, from initial building application through to project completion, so that schemes can be more effective.
All industry stakeholders must be held to account and contribute to the cost of remediation, so that homes are made safe as soon as possible.
  • There must be robust oversight of the developer self-remediation contracts with deadlines to ensure our homes are made safe at pace and that the scope of work is not reduced to prioritise their profits over our safety – leaving leaseholders liable for the remaining defects.
  • A wider pool of responsible parties, from contractors to product manufacturers, building control, architects, warranty providers and others should be compelled to pay towards making buildings safe, through levies or taxes. These professionals were not so slow to take profit and earnings from our defective homes.
  • Action must be taken where building owners cause unreasonable delay to signing remediation contracts and landlord certificates.
  • The same powers to take action against developers and building owners in England should be extended to Wales.

It has always been clear that the quickest way to make homes safe is for the government to fully fund remediation of all defects up front and then use its ability to recover costs from other responsible parties – this is the same approach that has already been taken for cladding. 

There is a precedent: in January 2023, the Irish government announced it would fully fund the remediation of all defective apartments up front.

Use existing powers to recover costs from responsible parties.

Homes England already has the power to seek Remediation Contribution Orders to recover remediation funds from responsible parties, as well as the power to have legal rights of action assigned to it under the Grant Funding Agreements.

To speed up remediation, the government should also consider using compulsory purchase order (CPO) powers to step in and take direct ownership of the freehold of any building where the owner is failing to undertake remedial works by a given deadline.

As long ago as 2020, the cross-party departmental select committee said it supported much more extensive use of CPOs and recommended the government urgently consider setting up a national body for this purpose – and it also highlighted that this could be an opportunity to kick-start a revolution in how such buildings are owned and managed in future, by converting them to commonhold after remediation. The government responded that it had “not ruled out any options, including CPOs, if the pace of remediation remains too slow.”

More than three years later, no one could argue that the pace of remediation isn’t far too slow. All available options should be taken to speed up the process of making homes safe, including the use of CPOs.