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Latest 14 April 2022

The Government must end the building safety scandal for good

Guest blog by the End Our Cladding Scandal Campaign

Nearly five years after the catastrophic fire at Grenfell Tower, millions of residents remain trapped in unsafe buildings across the country, facing life-changing cladding and fire safety bills which they cannot and should not pay. 

Evidence at the Grenfell Inquiry over the last few weeks has exposed what looks and sounds like a monstrous abdication of the state’s duty to protect the lives of its people over decades. What was first reported as a scandal of flammable cladding on high-rise tower blocks has turned out to be a full-scale building safety crisis. End Our Cladding Scandal is a resident-led campaign calling on the Government to resolve this crisis in a fair way that ensures full protection for all innocent leaseholders.

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Successive governments and their officials allowed the UK’s Building Regulations to remain inadequate and gameable, despite repeated warnings. Product manufacturers, developers and builders duly took advantage of the lax regulations and enforcement. The only innocent party were residents who bought unsafe homes and can do nothing about it legally. It sounds unbelievable, but you have more protection when you buy a faulty toaster.

Who should pay for decades of state and industry failure?

Pressure from campaigners and supportive cross-party MPs and Peers caused Michael Gove to abandon previous unfair plans to force long-term loans on leaseholders. And the Government should expect a backlash against their newest plan that still treats leaseholders as a backstop who will pick up the bill if a developer or freeholder won’t.

Plans to cap costs at £15,000 (£10,000 outside London), or between £50,000 and £100,000 for some higher-value flats, will leave many leaseholders paying for a decade to fix a crisis that was not of their making. This is not justice.

Thousands of innocent leaseholders are still facing the prospect of handing back their keys and declaring bankruptcy.

“When I was first told that I’d be forced into a loan scheme to pay the £93,000 it would cost to make my flat in a mid-rise building safe, I was absolutely devastated. I found a massive amount of comfort in the support I was given by the EOCS team and I thank them for all their work to have the loan scheme idea thrown out. I know the battle for justice for all isn’t over but we’ll all keep fighting together for a fair outcome.” – Darren Matthews

We must stop this injustice being written into law

The Government’s current proposals are nowhere near good enough. There are far too many gaps in the current Bill. There is no protection at all for leaseholders in low-rise buildings facing costs to make their homes safe; for small buy-to-let landlords with more than three properties; or to cover sky-high insurance costs and other interim measures that leaseholders have already been forced to pay, before work to make a building safe has even begun.

Please write to your MP today. Ask them to vote with their conscience by supporting amendments that reduce leaseholder contributions to zero and extend protections to ALL leaseholders, without exceptions. No leaseholder is to blame for this building safety crisis. Nothing less than a comprehensive solution is acceptable.

MPs can also show their support by joining our Westminster rally on Wednesday 20 April. We must make our voices heard. As we approach the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy, this is the moment for long overdue justice and change. 

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