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Government assists leaseholders in Medium-Rise Buildings with cladding fixes

06 December 2022

THE DEPARTMENT for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is launching a pilot opening of a new 11-18 metres remediation fund designated the Medium-Rise Scheme (MRS). The MRS is a new fund for tower blocks of between 11 and 18 metres in height that will ensure, where a responsible developer cannot be identified, funding is now available to pay for external wall system repairs and mitigations in these buildings.

The MRS will be delivered on behalf of the Government by Homes England through a digital platform. The initial pilot will target a small number of buildings that have interim or simultaneous evacuation measures in place.

The MRS will be funded through an extension to the Building Safety Levy, which will be chargeable on new residential developments in England. A consultation published on 22 November, which runs until February next year, seeks views on the design and implementation of the Building Safety Levy. Visit the GOV.UK platform at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-building-safety-levy-consultation for more details.

In parallel, 49 responsible developers have now committed to remediate life-critical fire safety works in buildings over 11 metres for which they have played a role in developing or refurbishing over the last 30 years in England. In addition, they have agreed to reimburse the Government if any buildings in which they had a role in developing or refurbishing required some form of remediation funding.

Shouldering responsibility

The Government is delivering on its mission to make sure that people feel safe and secure in their homes and that those found to be responsible for dangerous buildings pay to fix them.

The Building Safety Act enshrines in law a commitment that no qualifying leaseholder living in a medium or high-rise building will have to pay to remove dangerous cladding and that most leaseholders are now protected from any costs for remediation of non-cladding defects and interim measures (including ‘Waking Watch’ costs).

Owners of eligible buildings in the MRS pilot and beyond will be able to apply for funding such that remediation work may be initiated as soon as possible. Funding decisions will be proportionate to risk and based on the advice of fire safety professionals using the British Standards Institution’s PAS 9980:2022 methodology, which itself offers guidance to support proportionate recommendations.

Necessary works

By taking this approach, it will be ensured that only necessary works are carried out, thereby minimising disruption for leaseholders and residents and ensuring value for money for the taxpayer.

Building owners who seek to hold up remediation work or otherwise avoid their responsibilities can expect swift action to be taken against them. Local regulators are to be afforded the resources they need to identify buildings where remediation is being delayed and, where necessary, employ new powers – such as Remediation Orders – in order to make sure resident safety is paramount.

The MRS will open to other buildings in 2023. Further details on eligibility and the application process are going to be announced in due course.