Sadiq Khan set to call on government to ‘urgently’ review safety laws for financial protection after Grenfell tragedy

By Joe Talora, local democracy reporter

Sadiq Khan is set to call on the Government to “urgently” review construction safety laws to provide more financial protection for tenants and leaseholders after the Grenfell tragedy.

It follows a motion that was unanimously passed in the London Assembly yesterday that called for tenants and leaseholders “in buildings of all sizes” to be protected from the costs of fixing fire safety defects such as the removal of dangerous cladding.

The motion was proposed by Labour’s Anne Clarke, who was elected to represent Barnet and Camden in the Assembly in May’s elections.

Ms Clarke said: “It shouldn’t be up to leaseholders to fix the cladding scandal or to foot the bill for it by having to cover the costs of soaring insurance premiums and waking watches.

“We also shouldn’t be seeing the responsibility for handling this crisis being laid at the feet of the London Fire Brigade. And yet in the face of funding cuts, our already overstretched firefighters are having to deal with the pressures of carrying out thousands of additional hours of fire safety inspections each month.

“We need to see an urgent amendment made to the Building Safety Bill to take away the financial burden being faced by leaseholders, alongside giving our firefighters the resources, they need to deal with the crisis at hand.”

The Mayor of London will now write to Housing Minister Robert Jenrick to call for tenants and leaseholders to be exempted from covering the cost of remedial works, as well as mitigations such as waking watches and common fire alarm systems.

Currently, the Government’s £5 billion building safety fund only covers the cost of carrying out remediation work on buildings above 18 metres in height.

But during the previous mayoral term, the London Assembly’s fire, resilience and emergency planning committee found that fire safety defects were “widespread” in buildings below 18 metres in height, meaning thousands of Londoners were left bearing the cost of making them safe.

Earlier this month, hundreds of protestors in London joined demonstrators across the country in calling for developers to cover the cost of repairing fire safety defects following a fire at the New Providence Wharf development in east London that a report found had “serious safety failings”.

An MHCLG spokesperson said: “We have been clear throughout that owners and industry should make buildings safe without passing on costs to leaseholders – and we will ensure they pay their fair share with a new levy and tax to contribute to the costs of cladding replacement.

“We’re bringing forward the biggest improvements to building safety in 40 years through our Building Safety Bill and an unprecedented £5 billion funding package to ensure residents are safe.

“We’re also protecting those in buildings between 11m-18m from unaffordable costs, ensuring no leaseholder will pay more than £50 a month to remove unsafe cladding.

“This is on top of our £30 million fire alarm fund will help to reduce or remove dependence on waking watches.”




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