Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – in the House of Commons on 27th March 2023.
Whether he is taking steps to support leaseholders with building safety costs.
The Building Safety Act 2022 introduced extensive protections for leaseholders in buildings above 11 metres. Developers in Government schemes will pay for cladding remediation, and developers that have signed contracts or are associated with landlords will also pay for non-cladding work.
It is a national disgrace that nearly six years on from the Grenfell tragedy, leaseholders in Battersea are still stuck in buildings that are below 11 metres. It is not right for the Secretary of State to say that this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis when we know that shorter buildings will have more vulnerable people in them, will have more cladding, and will suffer from greater fire safety defects. When will the Government finally get a grip and allocate resources, and prioritise those according to risk?
I am sorry to disagree with the hon. Lady, but it absolutely is the case that buildings under 11 metres typically have a lower set of issues associated with them when reviewed on the basis of the PAS 9980 principles, which are utilised to assess whether issues are there or not. Where colleagues are aware of problems in buildings, we have asked—and continue to ask—them to get in touch with us, so that we can look at those problems. We are doing so—I looked at a case in Romford only last week. If the hon. Lady wants to provide me with further information, I would be happy to look at those individual cases.
As my hon. Friend will know, the cost to leaseholders does not just end with funding safety measures; many are paying extortionate insurance premiums. Can he tell the House what discussions he has had with the Treasury about reducing those costs and making them more affordable?
Along with my colleagues in the Department, we are trying to find an industry solution for insurance, and we have been working closely with the Association of British Insurers and with insurers directly on what they can do and how the costs for insurance come down as remediation is concluded. I spoke with the ABI only last week, and I will continue to meet it regularly to try to resolve this incredibly important issue.
They will only ever deal with a fraction of the problem at best, but the developer remediation contract and the forthcoming responsible actors scheme are welcome. Yet, as things stand, all we know is that the scheme will initially focus on sufficiently profitable major housebuilders and large developers, and it may then expand over time to cover others. Blameless leaseholders trapped in unsafe buildings deserve far greater clarity now as to whether or not the contract and the scheme may eventually cover their building. Will the Government give them that certainty by committing today to publishing a full list of all developers that the Department believes are eligible and should therefore ultimately participate or face the consequences—yes or no?
I have the greatest respect for the hon. Gentleman, but the reality is that he cannot suggest that only a fraction of buildings are covered by the developer contract. Just in the past two weeks, it has been confirmed that more than 1,100 buildings will be fixed, with £2 billion of work covering 44 different developers. There will be more announcements in due course, but where individual leaseholders have concerns about moving those buildings forward, we are happy to hear about them, but extensive Government support schemes are already in place to allow remediation to occur without waiting for the conclusion of these developer discussions.