Author Bio ▼

Ron Alalouff is a journalist specialising in the fire and security markets, and a former editor of websites and magazines in the same fields.
June 5, 2020

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Government launches £1bn Building Safety Fund to replace cladding on high rise residential buildings

The UK Government has launched its £1 billion building safety fund, initially revealed in the most recent Budget announcement by Chancellor, Rishi Sunak. The registration process is now open and closes on 31 July 2020. Ron Alalouff, reporter for IFSEC Global, explains more.

claddingThe Building Safety Fund is designed to help building owners and landlords replace unsafe non-ACM cladding on residential buildings at least 18 metres high which do not comply with building regulations. Unsafe non-ACM cladding includes certain types of other (non-Aluminium) metal composite or high pressure laminate panels, render and timber wall systems.

The scheme follows previous government funding of £600 million for the remediation of ACM (Aluminium Composite Material) cladding systems – such as those used on Grenfell Tower – for high-rise social and private sector residential buildings.

The new fund is aimed at making sure tenants, leaseholders and residents are safe and feel safe, by remediating unsafe non-ACM cladding systems. The fund will meet the cost of remediating non-ACM cladding systems where building owners (or other entities legally responsible for making buildings safe) are unable to do so.

In the private sector, the fund will meet the capital costs of removing and replacing unsafe non-ACM cladding systems which would otherwise be passed on to leaseholders.

For social housing, the Government will meet the costs of remediation to high rise residential buildings regulated as social housing. For social providers whose viability is not threatened by the cost of the work, a claim process will be launched in July to meet the remediation costs which would otherwise be passed to leaseholders.

But ministers have made it clear that they except building owners who are already remediating their buildings to continue doing so, and that building owners should explore every opportunity to fund this work before seeking government funding or passing their costs to leaseholders.

Funding will also be provided for mixed use residential and commercial developments in both sectors. But where remediation work has already started, or where work has previously been committed to prior to the budget announcement in March, funding will not be available.

The fund will apply to the removal and replacement of cladding systems with panels achieving European Class C-s1,d0 or worse in combination with any class of insulation, or cladding systems with panels achieving European Class B-s1,d0 to Class B-s3,d2 with insulation achieving Class B-s1,d0 or lower, unless the system has achieved a BR135 certificate via a BS8414 test. Any building with insulation or filler achieving Class B-s1,d0 or lower that is not installed in line with a system with a BR135 certificate via a BS8414 test will also be eligible to register.

Launching the scheme, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “I will not accept any excuses from building owners who have yet to take action, and those responsible should register for the fund so that they can start the remediation process immediately. I have also reached an agreement with local leaders so that this important work can continue safely during the pandemic.”

The registration process is now open and closes on 31 July 2020.

Under the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018, the Government banned the use of combustible materials on the external walls of new high rise residential buildings with a storey at least 18m above ground level.

Additional fire safety work

The Government is also amending guidance in Approved Document B which makes sprinkler systems and floor and flat identification signage mandatory in new high-rise blocks over 11m tall. The amended guidance will come into force in England on 26 November 2020 and is the first part of a full technical review of Approved Document B.

In addition, the Government is consulting with the National Fire Chiefs Council to begin testing evacuation alert systems for high-rise blocks of flats, which could support fire and rescue services’ operational response by alerting residents if they need to escape.

This article was originally published on IFSEC Global.

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