As we near the end of 2023, six-and-a-half years after Grenfell, there are still an estimated 10,000 buildings with unremediated fire safety defects across the country. As these years have passed, there has been too little action, at the scale needed, to make our homes safe. If this were any other product with life-critical safety defects, customers would have received a replacement or full refund, perhaps even compensation. Yet when it comes to our homes, we have had to wait several years for the Government and construction industry to agree who should pay to make them safe.
For around 10-15% of buildings, the answer is now remediation or reimbursement by the companies that were responsible for developing them. According to the latest data published by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), 1,342 buildings requiring remediation fall under the terms of the Developer Remediation Contract; that figure will increase as more buildings are assessed and as the Government ensures further developers sign the contract.
Looking forward, we need all stakeholders in the building safety crisis to now focus on making homes safe, sellable and insurable at a much more urgent pace, so that leaseholders and residents can finally get their lives back. To that end, we will be engaging directly over the coming months with many of the major developers that have committed to self-remediation of their buildings.
Redrow has set aside £200m for remediation of up to 109 buildings
Redrow was one of the first developers to sign the UK Government’s developer pledge in April 2022, followed by the Developer Remediation Contract in March 2023. It also signed the Welsh Government’s Deed of Bilateral Contract one month later, in April 2023.
Redrow is believed to have the second highest proportion of houses in its property mix currently, and says it has built relatively low numbers of residential buildings above 11 metres in the thirty-year period covered by the contract (1992-2022). However, it has set aside a total of £200m for fire safety remediation to date, which is the sixth largest provision in the industry.
According to Redrow’s recent annual report, 51 buildings are likely to require external remediation. Work was taking place on site at 18 of those buildings (35%), with another 14 at pre-contract stage (27%); that leaves 19 buildings not yet started or at a more preliminary stage (37%). They say that high-rise buildings (above 18 metres) have been prioritised.
The number of buildings expected to need remediation of internal defects is significantly greater, at 109 buildings, but the assessments appear to be less advanced.
Only a small proportion of the £200m fire safety provision has been spent so far. At Redrow’s financial year end on 2nd July 2023, only £12m had been utilised to date (see image). Even once added to the £68m the company expected to reimburse the government’s Building Safety Fund, for funding already awarded to Redrow buildings, that leaves 60% of the provision still to be spent.
The company’s annual report says the remediation programme could take another 5 years to complete, which will take us to 11 years post-Grenfell. Beneath the dry financial figures, it’s important not to forget that this is an astonishing length of time for people’s lives to be affected.
“Moving as fast as we possibly can”
Thanks to the support of ShareAction, we attended Redrow’s Annual General Meeting on 10th November to question the Board about their progress on building safety. We asked:
• Could the Board please explain the pace of remediation so far, and the urgency going forward to make homes safe, sellable and insurable?
• Could the Board also describe what additional support it can offer to leaseholders who bought homes that should have been safe, but who now find they may be trapped for years, often unable to sell or remortgage and paying sky-high insurance costs?
• And finally: Would the director responsible for Building Safety be willing to meet with the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign team, to discuss these important issues further?
In response, Redrow’s Chairman, Richard Akers, noted that contact had been made with building owners of all potentially affected buildings and the company were trying to “move ahead as fast as we possibly can,” but were sometimes slowed down by the “technicalities and legalities” of certain cases. He emphasised that Redrow were very open to engaging constructively with leaseholders’ concerns and would “do whatever they can to assist.” The relevant directors with responsibility for building safety would be happy to meet with us.
Due to the remote location, close to Redrow’s head office in North Wales, there were only a handful of other shareholders in attendance – and the only shareholder question was ours. That meant the issue of building safety got significant focus and we were easily able to speak with Redrow’s team on the day.
In an initial conversation with the director with responsibility for building safety, we heard that the current internal expectation is that the programme may take another 3-4 years – less than stated in the annual report – and that Redrow “would like to move quicker” but there are a number of factors affecting the pace, including the availability of suitably experienced fire professionals to carry out assessments.
A follow-up meeting was arranged with Redrow in early December to discuss the issues in more detail, and we will report back on this meeting in a future blogpost.
We would encourage all affected leaseholders and residents to take the opportunity to attend the AGMs of publicly listed developers and other stakeholders in the building safety crisis. It ensures that our voices and stories are heard by their boards and their shareholders – and makes them aware that we will continue to hold them to account until all homes have been made safe.
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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