On 11th March 2022 the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee published the “Building Safety: Remediation and Funding” report. This is a House of Commons Committee report, with recommendations to government. The Government has two months to respond.
We welcome this important report, and we thank members of the Select Committee for their dedication to ensure there is justice for all innocent victims of this crisis. We echo the strong words of Chair Clive Betts – it truly is shameful that this situation is yet to be properly resolved.
We very much welcome the report’s recommendations, in particular: the repeated call for a Comprehensive Building Safety Fund that sets no arbitrary rules; the call to scrap the proposed cap on costs to fix non-cladding issues; an independent body such as the Building Safety Regulator to decide which buildings need to be assessed and remediated on a consistent basis and, importantly, compensation for the thousands of pounds many of us have already been forced to pay out.
The report also chastises the Government’s wilful exclusion of buy-to-let landlords with more than one property and of residents in buildings below 11m. It is also vital to cease the games being played with affordable housing budgets simply because the Chancellor is continuing to ignore our plight. Solving both the building safety and housing crises is, and always has been, a matter of political will and choice.
We acknowledge that the approach by Secretary of State Gove is better than his predecessor; however, too many ordinary people are still being deliberately ruled out of help and there are still too many gaps in the Government’s “piecemeal measures”. In January, Michael Gove told Parliament that “leaseholders are sharing a desperately unfair burden. They are blameless, and it is morally wrong that they should be the ones asked to pay the price”. These are fine words, yet Mr Gove has still to back them up with real action. We now need him to amend the Building Safety Bill to provide true statutory protection from cladding and non-cladding costs to all leaseholders and make good the many mistakes of the past.
Mr Gove has a mandate from Boris Johnson to resolve this crisis and is engaged in a battle with the construction industry to make buildings safe. However, his early March deadline for a fully costed plan of action has already slipped – our lives remain in tatters while the Government plays pass the buck with the industry and the uncertainty in the housing market remains. Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak stubbornly refuses to provide any further help and yet the Grenfell Tower Inquiry continues to expose the role of politicians and the civil service in the Grenfell tragedy and their failure to maintain a regulatory system that is fit-for-purpose.
We ask that Mr Gove holds true to his promises and shows he has the will, authority, and nerve to free us from this nightmare.
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