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Housing developers told they have one month to come up with cladding cash plan

Michael Gove has told house builders they have weeks to come up with a plan to pay to remove unsafe cladding or face a law forcing them to hand over funds.

Housing developers now have until the end of March to come up with a “funding solution” to fix unsafe cladding after Michael Gove issued a final ultimatum. 

The housing secretary had given developers until early March to come up with the £4bn funds to remove cladding on buildings between 11 and 18 metres in a bid to prevent leaseholders from facing bankruptcy or homelessness in paying for remediation.

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But now he has extended the deadline until the end of the March with the warning that the government will create new legal powers to force developers to pay if they fail to come up with a plan.

In a letter to Home Builders Federation executive chairman Stewart Baseley, Gove said: “I am disappointed to see you have not proposed a funding solution to cover the full outstanding cost to remediate unsafe cladding on buildings 11-18m. I will therefore ask you to continue to work intensively with my officials in the coming weeks to agree a fully funded plan to fix unsafe buildings by the end of March. As part of this process, I expect developers to make public commitments.

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“If an agreement is not reached by the end of March, I have been clear that government will impose a solution in law and have taken powers to impose this solution through the Building Safety Bill.”

The housing secretary said the “current proposal falls short of full and unconditional self-remediation that I and leaseholders will expect us to agree”.

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Gove has taken a no-nonsense approach to the issue since being installed as the head of the newly named Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in September.

He has previously admitted ministers have been too slow to tackle the issue of building safety, which was brought into the spotlight by the 2017 fire at Grenfell Tower, and has called on industry to pay up after the government put in £5.1bn in the Building Safety Fund.

In response, a spokesperson for the Home Builders Federation (HBF) told The Big Issue UK housebuilders had already committed £1bn to cover remediation costs and were contributing £3bn through a new tax levy.

They added that demands to fund remediation on buildings built by overseas developers are “clearly unfair”.

The HBF spokesperson added: “We continue to engage constructively with government to find solutions to ensure leaseholders do not have to pay remediation costs, and recently put forward a proposal on behalf of our members that goes significantly further than the substantial existing commitment already made by them.”

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