Latest building safety news
Government cladding announcement
On February 10 2021, Housing Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, unveiled Government plans to address the cladding crisis. They include £3.5bn of additional grants for leaseholders in the tallest buildings, and low-cost loans for those in shorter blocks that need remediation.
We welcome the Government’s announcement today of the additional £3.5bn to fix cladding on high-rise buildings in England.
Leaseholders in buildings over 18m or six storeys will be eager to see the funds become available as soon as possible so we can continue to progress remediation works. However, we will need to wait for the detail on this announcement; including when the money will become available, how the Government will distribute it, how it will define ‘cladding’ and which buildings meet the requirements.
We are concerned with the announcement that leaseholders who live in buildings that are between four and six storeys will be expected to pay for remedial works through a loan. We await details from Government about how this will work in practice.
We were disappointed that no funding was announced for councils or housing associations to help with costs to remediate social housing with cladding. As an organisation, we have already set aside £265m towards remediating our existing social housing stock, but the money invested in fixing cladding issues means there will be far less investment into building new desperately needed social housing.
The Government also announced that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has consulted on new guidance for valuers on when an EWS1 form is needed, which will help ensure half a million leaseholders in blocks over 11m will not need a separate EWS1 assessment to get a mortgage. We strongly welcome this intervention from the Government and hope that it will help some of our leaseholders.
We will provide further information to our residents as the Government announces the details of its proposals.
Do all blocks need EWS1 forms?
The Government announced in November 2020 that residents who live in buildings 'without cladding' will no longer need an EWS1 form if they want to sell or remortgage their home. This could help up to 450,000 leaseholders who are currently waiting for an EWS1 form and are unable to move.
The Government defines ‘cladding’ as:
- aluminium composite material (ACM)
- brick slips
- high pressure laminate (HPL)
- metal composite material (MCM)
- metal sheet panels
- rendered external wall insulation system
- tiling systems
- curtain wall glazing.
The following are not ‘cladding’:
- masonry construction (panels of solid brickwork, blockwork, or stonework)
- traditional cavity wall construction (with a brickwork, blockwork or stonework external leaf)
- timber framed buildings (with a brickwork, blockwork or stonework external leaf)
- concrete panels
- stone panels.
In March 2021 the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors published new guidance for those valuing homes on behalf of mortgage lenders on when they should and should not request EWS1 forms.
The guidance already has the support of most lenders and RICS is now calling on all UK lenders to support and implement the guidance from 5 April 2021.
This guidance states that:
For buildings over six storeys, an EWS1 form should be required where:
- there is cladding or curtain wall glazing on the building or
- there are balconies which stack vertically above each other and either both the balustrades and decking are constructed with combustible materials (such as timber) or the decking is constructed with combustible materials and the balconies are directly linked by combustible material.
For buildings of five or six storeys, an EWS1 form should be required where:
- there is a significant amount of cladding on the building (that’s approximately one quarter of the whole elevation estimated from what is visible standing at ground level) or
- there are Aluminium Composite Mateial (ACM), Metal Composite Material (MCM) or High Pressure Laminate (HPL) panels on the building* or
- there are balconies which stack vertically above each other and either both the balustrades and
- decking are constructed with combustible materials (e.g. timber), or the decking is constructed with
- combustible materials and the balconies are directly linked by combustible materials.
For buildings of four storeys or fewer, an EWS1 form should be required where:
- there are ACM, MCM or HPL panels on the building.