Applications will be invited for cladding work on around 60 buildings 

cladding protest

The government has today launched a pilot to fix cladding defects in medium-rise ‘orphan’ buildings in England, which will be paid for by the proposed £3bn building safety levy. 

Homes England has already contacted those taking responsibility for about 60 blocks between 11 and 18m that are eligible to take part in the pilot. 

Leaseholders in the targeted blocks, where no owner or developer can be traced but have been identified as a priority, are facing additional costs such as for waking watches - personnel in the block that can warn of a fire - or raised insurance premiums. 

Those contacted can apply for a slice of the controversial £3bn fund to fix issues such as dangerous material on external walls. Qualifying leaseholders will not have to pay for any costs related to the remediation of unsafe external wall systems.

Housebuilders have called the building safety levy ‘anti-development’. Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and planning policy at the National Federation of Builders, said the fund was holding “innocent people accountable for the failures of the few”. Forty-nine developers have already committed to remediating blocks over 11 metres if they have had a role in developing or refurbishing them over the last 30 years, and agreed to reimburse any funding received from the government for works.  The Building Safety Act requires all owners of buildings with a net worth over £2m to pay in full for work on their buildings. 

Next year the medium-rise scheme (MRS) will be rolled out and a ‘responsible entity’ for eligible buildings will be able to apply for funding for remediation. These entities will be the person or organisation that has the primary responsibility for the repair of the property, such as the freeholder, head leaseholder, registered provider of social housing, management company or Right to Manage company. 

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities requires responsible entities to make information and progress updates available to leaseholders, and is encouraging leaseholders to contact responsible entities if they think they are eligible for the MRS. 

More details of the eligibility of the scheme will be announced next year, the department said.  

Lee Rowley, minister building safety, explained: “This is an important step forward for leaseholders who have been trapped in unsafe, unsellable homes with unfair costly repair bills for far too long.

“Building owners have the responsibility to get essential cladding repairs done and this scheme will help ensure this happens.”

He said he would be monitoring the progress of the pilot “very closely” ahead of the wider roll-out of the scheme next year. 

Applications to the MRS will need a Fire Risk Assessment External Wall (FRAEW), conducted to the PAS 9980 standard, by a suitably competent professional.

The government will include schemes where the FRAEW has recommended action on an external wall system because it risks safety to life.