Trade body warns charitable associations are diverting money away from development for fire safety remediation

The National Housing Federation (NHF) has hit out at the government for making no funding for housing associations available for cladding remediation in its Building Safety Bill.

The body, that represents associations owning six million homes across England, is disappointed that the landmark bill published yesterday would not allow associations to access the government’s £5 billion Building Safety Fund where they are providing homes for rent.

Victoria Moffett, head of building and fire safety programmes at the NHF, said: “Charitable housing associations have so far been unable to access existing government funds. They are already diverting billions of pounds away from the upkeep of their social homes and away from building new social housing in order to make safe homes they bought in good faith.

“If the government want to avoid bills being passed on to homeowners and fewer affordable homes getting built over the next decade, they will need to cover all building safety costs upfront and claim the costs back later from the companies they acknowledge are responsible - such as private developers.”

 The NHF estimates that it will cost housing associations £10bn to remediate all their buildings. In May, four of the largest housing associations in the country – Clarion, L&Q, Network Homes and Peabody - warned their ability to fund new development of homes will be affected by the remediation costs.

The Housing Communities & Local Government committee of MPs has repeatedly called for social housing providers to “have full and equal access to government funds for remediation”.

Currently social housing providers can only access the fund where costs would otherwise have been borne by leaseholders, meaning homes for rent are excluded. They can also apply where remediation costs would threaten their financial viability. The government has said previously it has confidence in local authorities’ and housing associations’ ability to carry out and finance remediation work.

More on the Building Safety Bill:

Building Safety Bill is ‘industry’s opportunity to embrace far-reaching change

Tory MP brands Building Safety Bill a ‘sticking plaster’ that won’t help leaseholders

Moffett however said the Building Safety Bill is an “important milestone” and the next step in overhauling the regulatory system to prevent another fire tragedy

She said: “It’s positive to see the government acknowledge today that private developers are ultimately responsible for the poor workmanship which has led to so many safety issues. And, that these developers should therefore cover the costs of the work, rather than homeowners or those in social housing.”

She added that giving leaseholders 15 years to pursue developers for compensation could help some people “but not everyone who is struggling to pay enormous building safety bills” and said there was no announcement of other financial support for leaseholders.