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27/10/2021

Affordable homes lost due to costs of building safety

Words: Laura Edgar
Recladding work / iStock-1226175393

Research has suggested that 11 per cent of affordable homes for rent and purchase in England can no longer be built because of the costs of making buildings safe in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

A survey conducted by the National Housing Federation (NHF) of 106 housing associations found that 61 have discovered dangerous materials on their buildings since the fire in June 2017 – this despite the building being signed off as meeting building requirements at the time they were built.

This February, the government made £3.5 billion of additional funding available for homeowners to remove non-ACM cladding from high-rise buildings. However, the NHF said there isn't any funding to remove this cladding from buildings where social housing residents live.

The NHF said without additional funding for safety work, these not-for-profit organisations have cut plans to build 12,900 affordable homes over the next five years so they can prioritise building safety.

Housing associations had planned to deliver 116,777 affordable homes over this time. They believe that social rent will be the worst affected because they build more this housing type with their own income rather than government grants.

In addition, building safety costs mean housing associations are having to divert £730 million away from routine maintenance work of the homes they already own, such as upgrades to bathrooms or kitchens.

In total, housing associations estimate they spend more than £10 billion to make their buildings safe over the next decade.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the NHF, commented: “This research shows that the costs of making buildings safe will be borne by the poorest people in our society for many years to come.

“Not-for-profit housing associations are putting their residents’ safety first, but without funding they are left with no choice but to divert money away from building new social housing for those most in need. It is simply not right that people who are at no fault and on the lowest incomes in this country are left to shoulder these costs.

“Those responsible for this crisis, developers of unsafe homes and manufacturers of dangerous materials, must be made to pay. In the meantime, we urge the government to do the right thing, and fully fund the upfront costs of making buildings safe.”

The money, the NHF added, should be claimed back from those responsible for unsafe homes and materials, such as private developers and manufacturers, once works are completed.

Image credit | iStock

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