A new project aiming to map out the full extent of the cladding scandal has found that people “the length and breadth of the UK” are facing massive bills to make their homes safe through no fault of their own.
After launching earlier this month, more than 400 buildings have been added to the map, estimated at around 55,000 individuals, with many yet to be mapped.
The project was launched by residents of an apartment complex built five years ago by Barratt and Taylor Wimpey, two of the UK’s largest building firms.
Speaking to NationalWorld, a spokesperson for the Cladding Scandal Map project said that the residents of their building now face a multi-million pound repair bill and the costs of a 24/7 fire patrol, even though they are leaseholders so don’t own the building.
‘It’s a scandal the government isn't doing more’
Despite evidence that the issue is shared by a million or more people in the UK, many feel that it is little-understood.
They said: “When we found this out we started doing research online, and discovered hundreds of other buildings in a similar position to us. Yet our friends and family not living in apartments had no idea about this problem.
“People have already been made bankrupt and we think it's a scandal the government isn't doing more.
So far the project has found that nearly 60 per cent of the buildings involved require costly 24/7 ‘waking watch’ fire patrols, paid for by residents, despite some evidence that they are ineffective.
They also claim that a majority of the buildings are in constituencies represented by opposition MPs, which they say could be a reason the government “seems so reluctant to step in and help”.
They’ve also been surprised at the extent of the issue, saying, “it's not just a London problem as some people first thought”.
NationalWorld also spoke to a number of people stuck in unsafe homes facing massive bills as a result of the cladding scandal.
The Fire Safety Bill
As part of a long, drawn-out process prompted by the Grenfell Fire disaster in 2017, the government introduced the Fire Safety Bill earlier this year, which provides £5bn to fund remedial works to make buildings over six storeys fire-safe.
The bill is in the final stages of being passed into law, with MPs set to consider amendments from the Lords on 20 April, before it is granted Royal Assent.
The government has also said it will provide long-term loans to leaseholders in buildings less than six storeys, which means they won’t need to pay more than £50 per month toward the cost of cladding removal.
Among the many issues that campaigners point to with the bill, is the unfairness that leaseholders, who in many cases bought properties sold as fire-safe, are being made to pay for works, rather than the freeholders, who actually own the building.
Residents of these unsafe buildings also point out that the scheme for lower buildings only accounts for the costs of cladding-removal, which makes up only part of the widespread issues with fire safety, many of which relate to internal issues.
They said: “Experts in the building industry have said that this whole scandal will cost between £15 billion and £25 billion to solve, but the government has only pledged £5 billion.
“And until everyone in a building raises the full amount needed, often millions, repairs cannot start.
“That leaves leaseholders in unsafe properties, paying out thousands for waking watch services, and increases the risk of them going bankrupt before the repairs can even begin.”