Protecting residents from historic and future costs must be a key commitment of new building safety legislation.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick is very proud of his new Building Safety Bill which, he said, is the most significant change to building safety regulation in a generation.

This may be true and there is plenty to recommend in the bill that seeks to do the important work of embedding a safety culture into the construction and management of high rises.

But from the perspective of the cladding scandal, it has two important flaws. First, it does not address the fact that the current system leaves leaseholders on the hook for historic charges.

A promise to extend developers’ liability to 10 years will help with new buildings but not older ones, which remain subject to a six-year period which in many cases has elapsed. The government acknowledge that leaseholders should not foot these bills, this legislation is a major chance to ensure they do not and currently it is not being taken.

Equally, the introduction of a building safety charge to fund all the new expensive measures the bill proposes is misguided. Without, at the very least, a cap on the amount which could be billed to leaseholders, this legislation will achieve little other than make living in a purpose-built flat ruinously expensive.

Responding to the campaign, an MHCLG spokesperson said: ”We’re making homes safer, providing £1.6bn to get unsafe cladding off homes and bringing forward the most significant building safety improvements in almost 40 years.

“Progress is being made with work complete or under way in more than 70% of buildings with ACM cladding, rising to above 90% in the social housing sector.”

Originally posted in Inside Housing on 27/09/20 by Peter Apps