The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee published its report on ‘Building Safety: Remediation and Funding’ on 11 March, scrutinising the government’s latest proposals to protect leaseholders from future building safety costs. The report focuses in particular on Michael Gove’s announcements on 10 January, and the subsequent proposals for amendments to the Building Safety Bill on 14 February.
Our submission to the committee
We contributed to the committee’s work by giving both written and oral evidence to the committee, which was quoted a number of times in the report. In our evidence, we:
- Reiterated that the safety of residents and our buildings is a top priority for housing associations, and that we do not believe leaseholders should have to foot the bills to fix unsafe cladding.
- Agreed with the government’s emphasis on a more risk-based and evidence-led approach to assessing, mitigating and remediating buildings.
- Supported the proposal for ‘polluters’ – developers, construction firms and product manufacturers – to pay to put things right. However, we also highlighted concerns that housing associations will wrongly be considered ‘developers’ where they have commissioned buildings through a design and build contract.
- Stressed the need to protect funding for affordable homes through the Affordable Homes Programme, and by ensuring that housing associations don’t have to divert funds away from building and maintaining much-needed social homes.
The committee’s recommendations
In its report, the committee makes a number of recommendations to the government, many of which reflected the NHF’s evidence.
The recommendations that relate specifically to housing associations include:
- That leaseholders should not have to pay a penny towards building safety costs, calling for the government to scrap the proposal to charge leaseholders up to a cap, under specific circumstances. The committee also recommends that leaseholders should be compensated for any costs already paid out, including through higher insurance premiums.
- That social landlords should have full access to funds for building safety remediation, ideally through a proposed Comprehensive Building Safety Fund, which would cover costs beyond external wall remediation. This recommendation is intended to protect housing associations from needing to divert funding away from building and maintaining much-needed social homes – or ‘pitting the building safety crisis against the housing crisis’, as described in the report.
- Excluding social housing from the Building Safety Levy and any other taxes or levies connected to building safety remediation.
- For housing associations whose role in developing a building was as a customer of a developer – i.e. they commissioned a building through a design and build contract to be exempt from funding any remediation works to that building.
- Protecting the Affordable Homes Programme at its current level, even if the department fails to recover sufficient funds through industry.
You can also read our press statement on the report.
If you have any questions, please contact our building safety team.