Cladding: Urgent clarification sought in Wales over £3.5bn cash

Cladding: Urgent clarification sought in Wales over £3.5bn cash

“Urgent clarification” is being sought on an extra £3.5bn announced by the UK government to remove unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the cash was for buildings over 18m high in England.

The Welsh Government will get a share too due to the funding formula used but it says it is not clear how much money will come to Wales.

Without help, residents say they will struggle to pay for improvements.

Many thousands of flat-owners around the UK face huge bills for fire-safety improvements, brought in after 2017’s Grenfell Tower fire when flames spread via combustible cladding, killing 72 people.

The UK government said the funding it was its “largest ever investment” in building safety.

But the Welsh Government has written to it for clarity on “a range of details”, including what the level of consequential funding would mean for Wales.

Cerys Owen, 28, said she was unable to move after fire safety issues came to light at the Victoria Wharf development where she lived in Cardiff Bay.

“We can see there is support in England, but it is significantly more than what we are getting in Wales,” she said.

Ms Owen said it is understood there are internal and external problems at her block of flats, including cladding issues, which will cost £20m – at an average of £58,500 per leaseholder.

“We’re all in a difficult position,” she said.

“There is no chance I would be able to pay that and nobody else is in a position to pay that.”

She said that if there is “no intervention” from the Welsh Government, this fee would fall on residents.

Ms Owen said that she would like to see ministers “commit” to putting any consequential funding that comes its way into a fund for residents “for the purpose it is intended”.

Building manager First Port previously said it was supporting residents in “seeking any funding to resolve fire issues”.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats called for the Welsh Government to pledge to remove all unsafe cladding without directly charging home owners.

Jane Dodds, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, said it was “worrying” that “so many properties in Wales are still at risk because of unsafe cladding” three and a half years on from the Grenfell fire.

A spokeswoman for the Welsh Government said the housing minister, Julie James, had sought “urgent confirmation” that the “UK government will work closely with us to ensure this is implemented on a suitable England – Wales basis”.

“There are aspects of today’s announcement, in particular then house builder’s tax, which is not devolved,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the Welsh Government also said it was “fully committed to supporting leaseholders and ensuring that buildings are made safe”, with £10m invested this year and a further £32m committed in the next financial year.

“We remain clear that we do not believe leaseholders should have to pay to rectify these issues.”

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