TODAY residents from across the country are joining high-profile politicians, including the Mayors of London and Greater Manchester, to lobby Parliament and protest at the dire situation high-rise homeowners continue to encounter including anxiety, depression and debt.

The lobby, calling on the government to take immediate action to support homeowners facing crippling mental health problems and financial ruin, follows the release of the Greater Manchester High Rise Residents Survey at the weekend. It clearly demonstrates the extent of the financial burdens leaseholders are dealing with and how this is affecting their private lives and having a damaging impact on mental health and personal relationships.

The report, carried out by the Greater Manchester High-Rise Task Force which was set up by the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham following the devastating 2017 fire at Grenfell Tower, highlights the significant stress leaseholders face to make their homes safe. Some homeowners report receiving demands of up to £30,000 for the remediation of their homes while others say they are suffering from huge hikes in service charges, with one owner occupier revealing an increase from £90 to £480 per month to cover cladding replacement.

One resident completing the survey said their life had effectively frozen in time: “I have been trying to sell my apartment for the past 15 months. Two buyers have backed out of the sale as there was no cladding report. I’m still finding it hard to sell my apartment and move on.”

The lobby is being held before the government sets its 2020/21 Budget on Wednesday 11 March, highlighting the human impact of the ongoing crisis and making sure that the voices of leaseholders living in high-rise buildings are heard by those with the power to change the law and fix what is an industrial scale regulatory crisis within the UK.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, City Mayor of Salford Paul Dennett, Hilary Benn MP, Sir Peter Bottomley MP and Justin Madders MP will congregate outside Westminster from 1pm, calling on Government to do more.

Andy Burnham said: “Today we are calling on the Government to take action in the forthcoming Budget to support leaseholders from across the country who are living a nightmare. Leaseholders should no live in limbo a minute longer, their lives are being ruined for no fault of their own. Today we are urging on the Government to come down and hear the experiences and concerns of residents and take urgent action to support them by making a package of financial and mental health support available.”

One of the residents groups attending the lobby are The Manchester Cladiators, a group of residents working tirelessly to support affected leaseholders in Greater Manchester.

The Cladiators said: We are attending the lobby today to ensure our experiences are heard far and wide. The situation for all of us is really dire we are living in potentially dangerous buildings, facing huge life-changing bills from building owners while living in flats we cannot sell. It is having a significant and very real impact on our mental health. Some of us are having to postpone getting married and delay starting families; we have been left trapped living in unsafe buildings, unable to move on.

“The situation is the same for leaseholders up and down the country. This is a national crisis and we will continue our fight until at the very least a no-strings attached Building Safety Fund is made available to all high-rise leaseholders to make our homes safe at no cost to residents. We hope the government will listen to us and do the right thing.”

The Westminster lobby comes as part of the ongoing work of the Greater Manchester High-Rise Task Force, set up by Andy Burnham after the Grenfell Tower Fire. Chaired by Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, the Task Force brings together the Fire Service, local authorities, landlords, building control, senior civil servants, universities and other specialists to provide a co-ordinated response to the risk in high-rise residential buildings.

Paul Dennett said: “As Chair of the Greater Manchester High-Rise Task Force I believe this lobby is integral in ensuring that leaseholders struggles and concerns are listened to by Government. Since the High Rise Task Force was set up we have worked tirelessly to support affected residents but this is a regulatory crisis on an industrial scale which the Government must take action to change. It is unacceptable that leaseholders continue to pay the price to make their homes safe.”

“Today Greater Manchester’s High Rise Taskforce is urgently calling on the government to: widen the material testing regime beyond ACM and HPL systems, review the current Building Control system for new developments including those under 18 metres, halt and reverse the cuts to Fire and Rescue Service Funding, reform the funding regime for cladding remediation to end the ‘cladding lottery’ - putting in place no-strings attached Building Safety Fund for all high-rise leaseholders to make their homes safe at no cost to residents, ensure VAT is removed from the cost of any remediation works on buildings and introducing sprinkler installation as a mandatory fire safety precaution."

 


Article Published: 25/02/2020 08:07 AM