The government will outline a plan for the cladding crisis “very shortly”, prime minister Boris Johnson said yesterday, amid suggestions that it is poised to adopt a controversial proposal branded a “cladding tax” by campaigners.
Seema Malhotra, Labour MP for Feltham and Heston, asked the prime minister whether the government would “come forward with a plan to fix this crisis which does not burden the leaseholders with the costs”.
Mr Johnson replied: “Of course we will, and I know my right honourable friend [housing secretary Robert Jenrick] will be bringing forward a plan very shortly.”
In November it emerged that Michael Wade, an advisor to the Cabinet Office, had devised a plan to provide long-term loans to the companies which own affected buildings, which would then be repaid by leaseholders through their service charges.
This proposal has been attacked by campaigners who have described it as a “grave injustice” and said it would show the industry “that it will not be made to pay for its failures”.
The government has previously made it clear that it has not adopted the plan as policy, but it is understood meetings have been held in recent weeks between MPs and ministers from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to outline the plans.
Inside Housing has also seen a letter sent last week from chancellor Rishi Sunak to a number of cladding campaigners which said the government is “working at pace to develop financial solutions” and had “appointed Michael Wade… to accelerate work with the financial sector and insurers to develop proposals to protect leaseholders from unaffordable costs”.
The government has put forward £600m to fund the remediation of aluminium composite material cladding and a further £1bn for cladding of other types.
But this funding covers a fraction of the tall buildings affected by dangerous cladding, as well as excluding buildings below 18m and defects which extend far beyond dangerous cladding.
As a result, many leaseholders face the prospect of enormous bills to rectify tower blocks, some reaching into six figures.
The End Our Cladding Scandal campaign – established by Inside Housing alongside a range of affected leaseholder groups – has a 10-point plan to fix the crisis, which involves the government paying upfront and recouping the costs through levies.
An MHCLG spokesperson said: “We are considering a range of options to fund future remediation work and this work is ongoing.
“We continue to work with stakeholders including leaseholders and the finance industry, and we will set out further detail in due course.”
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