Police + Fire Housing

Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force respond to £200m Government fund

Government has announced that it will fund the replacement of unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding on high-rise private residential properties.

Paul Dennett, Chair of Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force and GMCA Lead on Housing, said: "I welcome the announcement by Government today that funding is to be made available to remove and replace unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding in private high-rise residential blocks of flats across the country.

"However, this does not go far enough to ensure the safety of residents in high rise buildings. Nor is there yet enough clarity as to which buildings are and are not covered by this announcement. Similarly, it seems that the £200 million of funding is being diverted by the Secretary of State from other important housing projects and it is unknown what impact this will have on the government’s affordable housing programme and commitment to building much needed new social rented properties. There is a very real danger of a fractured and broken regulatory system resulting in a safety lottery for residents.

"The Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force has repeatedly urged Government to make money available to fund essential fire safety work in private blocks of flats. It is vital to ensure leaseholders are not hit with crippling, life-changing bills.

"Alongside the Mayor of Greater Manchester, the Leader of Manchester City Council and a host of others, I signed the recent open End Our Cladding Scandal letter, calling on Government to set up a fund to pay for all unsafe residential homes to be made safe, both inside and out and including non-ACM systems; to commit to completing the work within two years; and to pledge that those who have spent their life savings on interim measures will be recompensed.

"In Greater Manchester our Task Force has prioritised working hard with partners and residents to ensure the safety of high rise buildings. We know, and have repeatedly told Government, that the problems in high rise buildings are not restricted to ACM cladding. There are at least 64 blocks across Greater Manchester where leaseholders are facing significant costs for work and living with uncertainty about the safety of their buildings.

"While this funding might relieve anxiety and help residents in those blocks which have ACM cladding, the tragedy at Grenfell occurred almost two years ago. It is shameful it has taken Government so long to respond to what has quite clearly been an emergency situation requiring swift and decisive action to address what is clearly an industrial and systemic crisis. It is simply unacceptable that this response has taken so long and yet still leaves many in unsafe buildings and facing huge bills.

"We already know that building regulations are simply not fit for purpose following Government’s own commissioned independent review. Today we call again on Government to make further funding available urgently for all blocks and to cover all essential fire safety work. Leaseholders must not be left to pick up the bill."

Article Published: 09/05/2019 15:11 PM