07 Apr UK housebuilders pledge £1.3bn to prioritise fire safety and remove cladding
Major housebuilders in the UK have promised to spent £1.3bn to remove cladding and other fire hazards in a bid to avoid another disaster like the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.
However, the funds are still expected to be £4bn short of what’s required to address the life threatening fire safety issues, especially in mid-rise and high-rise housing blocks.
UK housebuilders Barratt Developments estimated that to address these issues it would cost it up to £400m, while the figure for housebuilders Redrow is £200m. The sums add to the cash already put aside by rivals including Bellway, which has so far pledged £186.5m, and Taylor Wimpey, which has promised to spend about £245m, as government pressure increases.
In 2017, Grenfell Tower in London suffered a devastating fire that claimed the lives of 72 people. Since then, the UK government has been under intense scrutiny and many housing blocks have been found inadequate for fire safety and prevention. Many buildings were found to have relied heavily on the use of combustible cladding, which was approved by government building regulations at the time.
Now, UK housebuilders are seeking ways to improve building regulations and better materials to combat fire in future. However, the collective provisions from the UK’s largest housing builders are still short of the £4bn the government has estimated it needs to remedy the fire risks across mid-rise buildings in England, Scotland and Wales.
The commitments from developers come as housing secretary Michael Gove increases pressure and has pushed 53 UK developers to sign a pledge to cover the costs of remediation, and protect leaseholders from footing the bill for repair work.
The cost of removing hazards like cladding from buildings higher than 18 metres is set to be funded in part by a 4% levy on housebuilder profits derived from UK housing developments.
The Home Builders Federation (HBF) said the money pledged so far demonstrated “the commitment of UK housebuilders to step up and meet the ‘polluter pays’ demand by government and to our long-stated principle that leaseholders should not foot the bill”.
It said other companies across industry, including contractors and manufacturers of insulation and cladding, should also be asked to cover the costs of any buildings not addressed by pledges to date.
The HBF said: “It is our strong assertion that other parties … are asked to make contributions before the government makes further demands on UK housebuilders to fix buildings with which we had absolutely no involvement. If ministers are genuinely interested in the ‘polluter pays’ principle then that seems fair.”