The latest on cladding and coronavirus
Coronavirus measures as of 11 May 2020
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.
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.
March 2020 budget announcement
The government announced a £1bn building safety fund for the removal and replacement of unsafe non-ACM cladding systems on buildings over 18 metres.
This includes systems such as:
- High Pressure Laminate (HPL)
- Other class C/D cladding.
The fund does not cover buildings between 11 and 18 metres, or ACM buildings of any heights - see below for details.
We will wait to see the details of the fund and see how we may be affected.
January 2020 Building Safety announcements
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. At the moment we understand that the discussion is surrounding loans rather than a fund to help
We will continue to make the case to government that we would prefer a fund rather than loans.
Our asks to government
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:
- Suitable guidance to ensure we are prioritising action on the least safe buildings;
- Continued support to enable leaseholders to sell and remortgage; and
- 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.