Thousands of affordable housing units in UK ‘will not be built due to security crisis’ | Construction industry

Plans for thousands of affordable homes are at risk of being scrapped as billions of pounds are diverted to solve the building safety crisis, builders have said.

Clarion Housing Group, the UK’s largest provider of affordable housing, told The Guardian it was on track to build 1,800 fewer affordable properties over the next five years due to the crisis. Another large supplier, who asked not to be named, said it would build 2,000 fewer over the next 10 years – a 15% drop – due to the crisis. The biggest providers of cheaper housing in London have also estimated they will need to spend £ 3.6bn on post-Grenfell repairs over the next 14 years, an amount that could provide more than 70,000 new homes.

The impact of the cost of replacing combustible linings and correcting other fire safety flaws discovered on thousands of homes in recent years is discussed with Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Upgrades, Housing and communities, which are under pressure to find a solution. to the worsening of the crisis. Chancellor Rishi Sunak also faces calls to significantly expand the current £ 5 billion building security fund during the October 27 spending review.

“Housing associations across the country are shifting spending toward firefighting work and away from building new affordable housing,” said Rob Lane, property manager at Clarion. “We estimate that we will build 1,800 fewer affordable housing units over the next five years due to remediation costs. “

Private tenants are also facing more crippling bills from developers and landowners to fix fire safety flaws in apartments not covered by the £ 5 billion government building security fund , which applies to buildings over 18 meters in height with a combustible coating.

Last week Emilie Boswell, 26, was among tenants in a building in Leeds who were billed £ 101,267 each for their exterior wall remediation. The building is over 18 meters tall and could therefore still benefit from government funding.

Tenants of a block in Salford also have revealed how an earlier government decision to fund all of their repair work was overturned because not all work was covered by its building security fund, leaving them with bills of £ 20,000 each.

Many building owners and developers are rejecting calls from ministers to fund work that costs millions of pounds per building. Labor and a coalition of Tory backbench rebels are expected to table amendments to the Safe Buildings Bill, which is expected to pass the Commons in the next session. They want ministers to protect tenants against building security costs that are not their fault.

The warnings about the impact on affordable housing construction come amid a chronic shortage of cheaper housing. In the first semester of this year housing associations and councils have only built 16,000 homes, while private companies have built 72,000. Last week, councils warned that waiting lists for affordable housing could double the year next to reach 2.1 million households, in part because of the cost of living crisis leading to rising rent arrears and evictions.

Lane said: “We are making great progress on our building security program and doing everything possible to protect our tenants from the associated costs, but expanding the financial support available would significantly ease the burden and allow housing associations to redeploy. their budgets and increase. delivery of desperately needed new homes.

Thousands of new affordable and social housing for those who need it most could no longer be built due to the crisis, said Kate Henderson, executive director of the National Housing Federation.

“Housing associations across the country are working hard to make their buildings safe as quickly as possible,” she said. “However, the lack of government funding to clean up social housing buildings means these nonprofits are forced to embezzle more than £ 10 billion from the people they support. It is not fair that the poorest people in this country are suffering when those who created this crisis – the for-profit developers who built these homes and the manufacturers of dangerous siding – are not responsible for these costs. “

She said: “We urge the government to fund the full initial costs of securing the buildings and to claim this money from those responsible once the work is completed.”

The government insists that building owners should not pass on the costs of defects, but pay or recover them from responsible developers or builders. He says this has happened in half of the cases where high-rise private buildings have been found with an aluminum composite cladding similar to Grenfell.

A spokesperson for the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities said: ‘We have committed over £ 5bn to remove hazardous coatings and are focused on completing this work to make homes safe. We are also helping more people access the housing ladder affordably. Last year we delivered 243,000 new homes and are investing £ 12 billion to help housing councils and associations provide affordable housing.


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