Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed the New Building Safety Fund in the Budget 2020, in a bid to ensure resident safety and fund the removal of combustible cladding in residential buildings (both private and social buildings) above 18m. This fund goes beyond the initial fund, which was established to remove ACM Cladding and extends to all forms of combustible cladding. There is a degree of speculation that this funding will be available to blocks with cladding that has a fire rating of Class C or lower.
While funding does alleviate the cost pressure to some degree, building owners still remain legally responsible for ensuring the safety of both the building and the residents. Many leaseholders in blocks with combustible cladding have had interim fire safety measures in place to ensure safety. However, these blocks still require remedial work as part of a long term strategy to ensure resident safety. This fund is expected to expedite some of the necessary remedial action.
Many argue that £1bn is not enough; as many estimates suggest the cost of removing combustible cladding in all buildings at around £10bn. There additionally remain questions surrounding buildings under 18m that make use of combustible cladding. Nonetheless, most industry bodies will accept that this is a step in the right direction. The MHCLG (Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government) anticipates social housing providers that are funding remediation will continue to do so, not requiring access to the fund. It is worth noting that the chancellor added that the government would try and continue to ensure that leaseholders and developers pay their fair share.