2 June, 2020
The government has now announced more details about its Building Safety Fund and has opened registration for accessing grants in respect of the remediation of unsafe non-ACM cladding.
Our previous update “Government warns the Covid-19 pandemic must not delay the replacement of unsafe cladding” summarised the government’s most recent measures relating to fire safety at multi-storey and multi-occupied buildings.
The remediation of unsafe cladding remains an absolute priority of the government and, whilst the workings of the scheme have not yet been finalised, building owners, managers and others responsible for building safety have until 31 July 2020 to initiate their applications for a grant. The Housing Secretary, mayors and local leaders have taken the “Building Safety Pledge”, promising to ensure improvements continue through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Building owners, freeholders or others responsible for high rise buildings can now register their interest in the Building Safety Fund. Registration will remain open from 1 June until 31 July 2020, meaning those responsible should act fast.
Whilst in many cases leaseholders will ultimately benefit from the scheme, the government has made it clear that individual leaseholders should not attempt to register. The government has, however, encouraged leaseholders and residents to raise registration with those responsible for their buildings, as well as reporting any complacent or uncooperative owners to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
It is intended that building owners will initially self-certify their applications. The government’s “Prospectus” for the scheme therefore includes annexes detailing technical specifications relating to the height of buildings, assessment of external wall systems, standards for remediation and competent professionals. Individual applications are required for each individual building, whether part of a single development or otherwise.
The government has set out a rough indication of costs which will qualify as eligible in the “Prospectus”. Costs which could be attributable to the capital costs of the project are likely to qualify whilst ongoing revenue costs, such as the implementation of other interim safety measures, are not.
Further, the government has restricted the scope of costs to those reasonable, measured against the industry standard. They have set out some examples of reasonable costs in their “Prospectus”
The government is accepting registrations in respect of buildings where remedial works have already commenced, thereby encouraging early progress. However, grants will not be available for buildings where remedial works commenced prior to 11 March 2020 (the date the scheme was first announced).
The government has not yet finalised the details of the scheme. However, their “Prospectus” includes some indication of how applications might progress. It is intended the next stage will include legal and project due diligence, with assistance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in technical assessments.
Those accepted for government funding will need to submit a full funding application based on the tender price that must be submitted by December 2020. They must also be in a position to facilitate the commencement of the work by the end of this financial year.
*The information set out in this article is correct at the date of publication (02 June, 2020).
If you have any questions regarding the issues of unsafe cladding in this article or are seeking up-to-date legal advice for the construction industry, contact Alice Toop on 01202 294 566 or email AliceToop@steeleraymond.co.uk.
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