Chanel 4 TV presenter and MoveIQ founder Phil Spencer has made a rare foray into politics and called for the government to take action to help the estimated 500,000 leaseholders caught up in the growing cladding scandal.
Leaseholders, including many who bought their homes through the government’s shared ownership scheme, now face huge potential bills to have flammable cladding on their buildings replaced.
As we reported in February just before Covid, an industry-wide group of property professionals called on Ministers to release the funds needed to pay for defective cladding on tower blocks over 18 metres high following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
In March Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that he had established a £1 billion fund to pay for the testing, removal and replacement of unsafe ACM cladding on some but not all private sector residential towers.
But despite this, over 9,000 buildings remain in limbo awaiting a clean bill of health, leaving their apartment leaseholders both fearful for their safety but also unable to remortgage or sell their homes.
This is because £1 billion is not enough – the total bill for replacing the cladding on all private and public buildings is now likely to be £3.5 billion, civil servants have admitted.
“Let’s remember it was under government regulations that allowed the cladding to be fitted to begin with,” says Phil Spencer.
“Unless action is taken immediately people who bought into these government backed affordable housing schemes will be bankrupted to cover costs of removal.
“There are so many stories of people caught in an impossible situations through no fault of their own.
“This is an unmitigated disaster unfolding and, although I understand our politicians have plenty to be dealing with right now, it’s very hard to comprehend their apparent lack of acceptance, recognition or even remotely appropriate action.
“If those affected are unable to remortgage or sell their home it is technically worthless. It’s hard to overstate the misery this issue is going to cause – emotional as well as financial. Immediate attention is required.”