We would like to thank the new Secretary of State for Housing, Greg Clark, for meeting us to listen to the stories of ordinary people trapped in the building safety crisis. Mr Clark told us that he considers this scandal to be the most important issue facing his department today, and one that he is determined to solve. Last week, a construction industry source suggested that finalising contracts should be delayed until a new prime minister is in place. However, Mr Clark has told us that the Government will accelerate policies put forward by his predecessor, Michael Gove, and that there will be no ‘treading water’.
Our team told Mr Clark how they have been affected personally by the cladding scandal and also highlighted general issues faced by so many of us across the board: outrageous insurance rises, obscene waking watch costs, continuing problems getting access to government funding, an ongoing inability to remortgage, and issues surrounding shared ownership.
Among the topics we focused on were:
- Ensuring the developer pledges are turned into binding contracts urgently after the period for comments closes on 10 August with their work to fix buildings based on clear and transparent standards. Those developers finally must be made to focus on our safety ahead of their profits.
- Holding all developers to account, not just those that have been asked to pledge to fix their buildings. All have benefited from generous taxpayer funding and all must do the right thing.
- Ensuring all funding schemes are fully operational at real pace and truly fit for purpose. The delays suffered over the last two years since the Building Safety Fund opened must be consigned to the past.
- Pushing lenders to hold true to their public statement to support the leaseholder protections and no longer only commit to lending with start dates for work given the new Leaseholder Certificate. Guidance on the Leaseholder Certificate must also be made clearer and we will continue our work with officials from the Department to achieve this.
- Ensuring all parties involved in developing and constructing unsafe buildings are held to account including those who used special purpose vehicles. Private and social building owners must not be allowed to hide from their liabilities and continue delaying making homes safe. The Recovery Strategy Unit must be fully operational urgently with test cases at the First-Tier Tribunal heard, and precedents set, as soon as possible.
- Bringing an end to the insurance extortion. The FCA report is now overdue and there must be an equal and immediate policy response from the Department. We were comforted that Mr Clark asked to meet us again once the report is out to help feed into his policy thinking.
- Working with the Home Office to end the rip-off waking watch and evacuation management practices that have cost, and continue to cost, leaseholders thousands of pounds.
- Doing more to help the ordinary people ruled out of help, whether those deemed non-qualifying, residents in buildings under 11m or in enfranchised buildings. Our simple position is and has always been that all leaseholders are innocent so to only help some remains a dereliction of duty.
We reiterate our thanks to Mr Clark and his officials for their engagement and willingness to work on ending this scandal. A week is a long time in politics and a month especially so – we desperately need stability at the helm of the Department to see through a solution to the building safety crisis that does the least harm to innocent leaseholders.
The End Our Cladding Scandal campaign calls on the Government to lead an urgent, national effort to fix the building safety crisis.
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