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Unsafe buildings: “where is the rest of the funding coming from?”

by Jennie Ward

Simon Lewis, Construction Partner at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, welcomes the £5bn grant put aside to pay for the removal of unsafe cladding from the highest risk buildings, but says the sum announced in the Autumn Budget “probably won’t be enough to deal with all higher risk buildings with poor cladding and certainly won’t be enough to deal with all unsafe buildings.”

Giving his thoughts on Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Autumn Budget announcement, Simon Lewis, Construction Partner at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, explained: “The £5 billion grant which will be set aside to pay to remove unsafe cladding from the highest-risk buildings in the country was of course welcome in today’s Budget Announcement, but as always, the devil is in the detail. Given the significant number of buildings that have been found to be unsafe, limiting this just to “higher risk buildings” and only for cladding is overlooking all of the other unsafe buildings that fall outside these parameters. The sum is of course significant but it probably won’t be enough to deal with all higher risk buildings with poor cladding and certainly won’t be enough to deal with all unsafe buildings. The government expects the RPDT to raise £2bn, but where is the rest of the funding coming from? It would be useful to know more about how the government intends to support the industry to meet these costs.  

“There is a risk that the additional costs on developers from the RPDT (and the gateway 2 levy) will simply be passed on in increased costs for leaseholders and purchasers of new buildings. The government’s Impact Assessment already estimates that the cost of complying with the Building Safety Bill/Act will be £3bn, the bulk of which will fall on the industry and is likely to be passed through to the consumer/end user.  This announcement doesn’t directly address the central issue of how leaseholders can be rescued from the often crippling costs of making these buildings safe and the sector needs to address this urgently.”

More on the Autumn Budget here.

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