A weekly round-up of the most important headlines for housing professionals
If you haven’t looked at the Inside Housing website over the past few days, you may have missed that it has been all about the external wall system – or EWS – crisis this week.
Since Friday last week, Inside Housing has published a series of articles highlighting the chaos and confusion caused by the controversial form needed by people trying to buy new flats.
The EWS1 form is something that has become synonymous with the building safety crisis and has dominated the lives of leaseholders, housing providers and property managers.
The process requires a competent professional to inspect a wall and deem whether it is in need of remedial works. If the wall is given a clean bill of health, banks will lend. If it is not, banks won’t lend.
The process has caused chaos for the flat sale market and misery for many leaseholders trapped in their homes. Throughout the week we have told the stories of these leaseholders, such as the leaseholder who bought his £325,000 flat off the back of one EWS1 rating giving assurances the cladding was safe, only to find out 34 days later that the original rating had changed and that he now faces huge fire safety bills.
Then there is the woman who has seen three sales fall through on her shared ownership home after she received four different EWS1 forms in the past 12 months. And the man who faced potential remediation bills of £500,000 despite having an EWS1 form that said the building didn’t require any work.
The investigation culminates in an article taking the deepest dive yet into the EWS1 process and the issues it has caused. The piece charts the story of the inception of the EWS1 process, to the impact it has had on the housing sector in the past 15 months, as well as considering what the future for the highly controversial form might be.
If you have a spare few minutes I would recommend you have a read. But I would say that, wouldn’t I? I did write it after all.
Elsewhere, phase three of the Grenfell Inquiry has been running all week, with those living in the block explaining in detail how they were treated, and in some cases ignored, ahead of the fire. Our deputy editor Pete Apps has been following the events. You can find his digest detailing this week here.
The Northern Irish social housing sector received a decent boost earlier this week, with the news that the Northern Ireland government would be increasing the level of grant for new development by 20%. Over the next year the sector will receive £162m to go towards new development, up by around £26m from last year. It comes off the back of the news that the country had exceeded its 1,850 social home starts last year by nearly 30%, with 2,403 homes started in 2020/21.
We also saw more details of the government’s post-Brexit immigration plans, with the publication of new guidance that would see non-UK nationals who sleep rough potentially have their right to remain in the UK refused or cancelled.
The new guidance states that the policy should be used only in cases where someone “has repeatedly refused suitable offers of support and engaged in persistent anti-social behaviour”.
Understandably, the move has been met with fierce criticism from homelessness charities, which have branded the rules inhumane and said people shouldn’t face punishment for experiencing homelessness.
Jack Simpson, news editor
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