A Leeds resident says that the government is “not doing enough” to protect buildings from fire safety issues.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, has announced that residents who live in buildings with dangerous cladding will have some of the costs to remove the cladding covered by adding another £3.5 billion to the fund, which is now at £5 billion in total.
The danger of this type of cladding was highlighted after the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 which killed 72 people and caused hundreds to lose their homes.
Henry King lives in a flat in the Leeds Dock area without any cladding problems, and he is worried that this fund does not do much to protect building residents against other fire safety issues.
“The vast majority of those buildings with cladding issues also suffer from other fire safety issues, for an average building it (fixing the cladding) will probably reduce their costs (for other fire safety issues) by 25%.
“But people will still have bills of 20, 30, 40, £50,000, so 25% off of that still leaves a bill that some people just aren’t going to be able to pay, so it really doesn’t solve much.”
In Henry’s case, these other issues are that his building is missing cavity barriers and fire breaks and does not have the proper compartmentalisation between flats, problems which were not there when he purchased the flat in 2019.
“Our (the buildings) initial quote was £3.2 million which divided by the amount of flats we’ve got is about £12,000, for a one bed flat, and the cost for a two bed is about £18,000.
“This is still an incredible amount of money but it’s also a lot less than what other people are facing so you find yourself in a strange position of actually being relieved it’s not two or three times that.”
The cladding’s impact
Scott Morrison lives in a sixteen storey building in Leeds.
“My building has six types of cladding, three of those are actually hazardous and two of those comply with the funding, the building safety fund which was introduced recently.
“It’s an unfortuante situation, because I get from a fire safety perspective that the government has had to remediate these buildings and change them – you can’t leave people in hazardous buildings, but there’s no real end in sight.
“Even if my building complies with the building safety fund (2 out of the 3 types of cladding comply), the leaseholders will still have to fund the third one.”
Scott also has concerns about the £5 billion fund that Jenrick has set aside to fix the cladding.
“If you’re in a building that has these problems but doesn’t have cladding issues you have no ability whatsoever to access funding, it’s very obvious that the funding pot isn’t enough.”
You can hear Scott speak about his experiences in more detail below.
There are many people who will be even worse affected than Henry and Scott. Those people living under 18 metres (or six storeys) in buildings with the hazardous cladding in them will not have access to any funding.
Whether the government backtrack and make the funding available for all leaseholders affected by the cladding is yet to be seen.
Due to the large amount of money that is already in the pot for funding, and the fact that the economy is still be crushed by the pandemic, it would seem like there will be no more money available on top of this.
There are many groups on social media outraged at the way that the government has handled the situation, and a lot of the residents in the affected buildings have declared bankruptcy.