Extra lb3.5 billion announced to exchange unsafe cladding – however, many leaseholders will still pay


Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has announced lb3.5bn more funding to get rid of dangerous cladding from high-rise buildings in England, however it will still leave leaseholders paying thousands for other related costs.

The additional funding covers cladding removal from buildings over 18 metres or six storeys, meaning leaseholders in buildings under 18 metres could still need to purchase the work themselves.

Today's announcement also didn't include any financial support for additional fees affected buildings are facing, for example waking watches, installing fire security systems and skyrocketing insurance costs.

Here, Which? explains what's been announced and also the scale from the costs leaseholders could be facing.

What has got the government announced?

Today's announcement added lb3.5bn to the existing Building Safety Fund. The fund was previously lb1.6bn in dimensions, with lb600,000 of this earmarked for buildings with Grenfell-style 'ACM' cladding, and lb1bn for other sorts of combustible cladding.

The government also announced a long-term financing scheme meaning leaseholders in four to six-storey buildings will pay at most lb50 a month for cladding removal, though information on this plan of action are still being finalised.

Jenrick said leaseholders facing large remediation bills have been in an 'absolutely invidious situation', which the brand new plan is 'fair and generous' to leaseholders.

But as Which? studies have found, leaseholders are still facing crippling costs for building safety expenses apart from cladding removal, which this announcement doesn't cover.

Jenni Garrat, speaking with respect to the finish Our Cladding Scandal campaign, said: 'The cladding and building safety crisis has a hugely damaging effect on millions of leaseholders, both financially and mentally.

'Today’s government announcement, unfortunately, won’t change that for people much like me who will be saddled with crippling bills to create my home safe.'

Who can connect to the money?

The newly topped-up Building Safety Fund is open to owners of buildings over 18 metres tall, that the government says are most dangerous, but these are in no way the only real buildings affected by the cladding scandal.

Which? has been around contact with leaseholders from dozens of affected buildings, including several who're facing expense despite residing in buildings below 18 metres tall.

We've even been told by leaseholders in buildings taller than 18 metres that have struggled to secure grants in the Building Safety Fund.

The government also previously announced a lb30m fund to pay for fire alarm installation for buildings over 18 metres with waking watches installed.

However, Which? research found that the typical cost for fire-alarm installation based on quotes received by 12 buildings was lb127,000.

If this is the true average, the lb30m fund would only cover 236 buildings – less than half from the 590 buildings with waking watches working in london alone.

What still doesn’t have funding?

Even leaseholders that do manage to remove cladding using the newly announced fund could still face additional costs for other conditions associated with the scandal.

When combined, these bills is really so high that certain in six affected leaseholders are exploring bankruptcy options, according to market research in excess of 1,300 leaseholders by property magazine Inside Housing.

1. Waking watches

There's to date no government funding to pay for waking watches, which can cost buildings thousands each week.

We asked four developments regarding their waking watch costs in December 2021 and located that they'd paid nearly lb1m together so far.

The Inside Housing survey discovered that 43% of affected buildings possess a waking watch.

2. Buildings insurance

Buildings insurance costs have ballooned by an average of 500%, leaving some leaseholders paying more than lb3,000 a year each for insurance after fire safety defects have been located, based on recent Which? research.

At the time of writing, there's no government support open to help leaseholders cover these increases.

3. Other fire safety defects

It's become referred to as 'cladding scandal', but buildings can require expensive remediation bills for other fire safety defects, for example missing cavity barriers or any other combustible materials.

One leaseholder told Which? he's facing a lb100,000 bill to pay for to fix unsafe cavity barriers. Even with lb3.5bn more in the Building Safety Fund, leaseholders in his situation will receive no help to pay these bills.

Hear leaseholders’ stories

In December, The Which? Money Podcast spoke with leaseholders and campaigners about how the cladding scandal is different their lives.