Lockdown Update - We continue to operate our services during the national lockdown from 5 November, in line with Government guidelines and advice.

The latest on cladding and building safety from the government

Building safety is part of an ever-changing policy environment - the government regularly updates its policies or makes new announcements which affect the way we approach our building safety programme. You can find the major government announcements below and what they mean. 

The government has announced that residents who live in buildings 'without cladding' will no longer need an EWS1 form if they want to sell or remortgage their home.

Read the announcement 

The government has said that this could help up 450,000 leaseholders who are stuck without an EWS1 form and unable to move forward. 

While this is good news, there is not yet clear technical guidance from government as to the specific materials and/or construction method that this announcement applies to. We will be looking at the guidance when it becomes clear and will write to any residents who may be affected when we know more. 

It has been widely reported that the government's Building Safety Fund has received a high number of applications. The reported figures on the government's website do not yet include social housing applications, so the numbers reported are expected to grow.

Read the statistics

This has meant that it is taking longer than we expected to receive a response on the outcome of our applications. We will let residents know when we hear back from the government and will organise a webinar to establish what the next steps are, whatever the outcome of our application.

The government announced a £1bn building safety fund in March and then in June released the details on which organisations and which buildings are eligible.

Social housing providers are eligible to apply to the fund but only for certain types of buildings. Much of this is for ‘non-ACM cladding’ – you may know that ACM cladding was the type of cladding on Grenfell. This fund is mainly to help with the removal and replacement of non-ACM cladding and some types of combustible insulation. 

We have submitted an application to the Building Safety Fund for several of the eligible buildings we are responsible for. This was a very comprehensive application and we needed to ensure we had all the correct information to put ourselves in the best position to receive money from the fund. 

We are only applying for funding where we feel positive that we will receive funding from the government, but we are not able to make any guarantees as to if we will be successful. 

Even if we are successful, the fund does not cover every single cost related to building safety. If there are any other areas where costs may be passed on to leaseholders, we will write once we have more information and will go through the statutory Section 20 process or go to the First Tier Tribunal where leaseholders will be able to input and feedback.  

Not all our buildings are eligible to apply for the fund – we have extensively reviewed the criteria and have determined that some of our buildings are not eligible for the fund. We have also liaised directly with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure we have interpreted the criteria correctly.  

Even though we are unable to apply for this fund for some buildings, we are still working hard on behalf of our residents to pursue other avenues. This could be through an insurance policy or warranty, or from the original contractor who built the building. 

During lockdown 1 and 2, the government has stated that building safety work is essential and must continue, even during the coronavirus pandemic. Local figures such as the Mayor of London and representatives of many London councils have signed a pledge to ensure building safety work can continue in line with the government's plans.

Read the pledge

For work to continue on our sites, we will be ensuring we follow the government's guidance of working safely on construction sites during the crisis. We are working with many contractors on each of our sites, so the measures we take will be different on each site, but some of the things we're doing include:

  • Changed working hours to avoid busy times on public transport
  • Increased driving to sites to avoid public transport
  • Teams of workers from the same household, so work which needs two people to carry out can still be done
  • Pausing work which may require workers to be closer than 2m.

For some of our building safety work, we may need to enter your home. We'll always tell if you this is going to happen and we'll work with you to ensure the safety of your family and our staff. The government has also released guidance for tradespeople who need to enter other people's homes and we will be following that guidance.  

Read the government's guidance

The government announced a £1bn building safety fund for the removal and replacement of unsafe non-ACM cladding systems on buildings over 18 metres during the March 2020 budget announcement. 

Read the government's announcement

This includes systems such as:

  • High Pressure Laminate (HPL)
  • Wood/timber
  • Other class C/D cladding. 

The fund does not cover buildings between 11 and 18 metres, or ACM buildings of any heights.

The government made some important announcements about Building Safety in the House of Commons in January 2020. This included bringing together previous advice, as well as new advice and it is likely that this will affect and extend the scope of our building safety programme. The main changes are that the government advice now states that:

    • The previous advice to concentrate on buildings over 18m should be reviewed and the height reduced to 11m.
    • Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding with an unmodified polyethylene filler (the type used on Grenfell Tower) is not suitable for use on residential buildings of any height. The government has not announced any funding for the work to remove ACM cladding on buildings below 18m in height. 
    • Certain forms of High Pressure Laminate (HPL) cladding, and some types of external wall insulation, are not suitable for use on residential buildings.
    • Certain forms of balcony construction can form a potential fire risk.
    • External walls using External Wall Insulation (EWI) can form a potential fire and general health and safety risk.
    • Fire Doors should be checked and maintained more regularly.

In addition to this technical guidance, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced it is working with the Treasury to consider the options they may have to support leaseholders who could be facing having to pay for any remedial works that arise out of this guidance.

EWS1 form and buildings 'without cladding' - November 2020
Building Safety Fund update - October 2020
Building Safety Fund eligibility - June 2020
Coronavirus measures - May and November 2020
£1bn Building Safety fund announced - March 2020
Building Safety announcements - January 2020

What is Network Homes doing to help?

We understand this is a very difficult situation that residents are finding themselves in. As well as carrying on with our building safety programme to investigate and remediate buildings, we are working with the sector to lobby the government to offer more support. You can find out some of the things we've been doing below. 

We believe that three things are needed to address current issues in relation to building safety and the position of leaseholders and are calling on government to provide: 

  1. Suitable guidance to ensure we are prioritising action on the least safe buildings; 
  2. Continued support to enable leaseholders to sell and remortgage; and 
  3. Funding to protect leaseholders from high bills and ensure that sufficient resources are available for housing associations to continue to invest in building new homes. 

The housing sector is working hard to try and resolve this situation for leaseholders, and we're doing what we can to support leaseholders.

National Housing Federation

We've been working with the National Housing Federation (NHF), getting best practice and sharing it with colleagues. We've also fed back on how the NHF can better support housing associations dealing with building safety issues. 

G15

Network Homes is the Chair organisation of the G15, a group of London's largest housing associations. We have been sharing good practice with our colleagues in the other organisations, so we can all improve our operations and communications to make our Building Safety Programmes work as best as we can.

Among the communications teams, we have been sharing learning and what has worked well for organisations, as well as coordinating among member organisations to lobby government.

Government consultations

We have responded to numerous government consultations on building safety issues. You can read these responses on the G15 website.

G15 consultation responses

Leaseholder groups

We've been in touch with leaseholder groups such as the UK Cladding Action Group to discuss how we could support leaseholder groups as part of their 'End our Cladding Scandal' campaign. 

Media work

We've had coverage on building safety issues in the media, where we have explained the situation leaseholders and housing associations find themselves in, and said that we need more support from government to resolve it.

We've appeared in a variety of publications, such as Inside Housing and Social Housing (housing trade publications), as well as the Sunday Times, BBC News and also on broadcast BBC News. 

We'll continue to work with the media to tell of the situation and how it needs more support from government.

Stakeholders

We've provided briefings to a variety of organisations and individuals to explain what's going on in building safety. This includes local councils and MPs where we have affected buildings.

Our asks to government
Working with the sector and beyond
Informing the media and stakeholders

Get in touch with us

If you've still got a question, you can contact us on customerservice@networkhomes.org.uk or fill out our form

More information