Cladding scandal: what plans has Michael Gove announced to tackle dangerous building cladding in the UK?

Michael Gove has said he is ‘prepared to use legal means’ to ensure developers act over the building cladding scandal

Developers and companies that sought to profit from the cladding crisis are being “put on notice”, Michael Gove has said.

The Communities Secretary told MPs leaseholders were “shouldering a desperately unfair burden” and the “industries who profited” should be paying for the mistakes.

Mr Gove added that developers have until March to agree a plan over removing unsafe cladding on flats and he is prepared to “use legal means and ultimately, if necessary, the tax system” to ensure developers live up to their responsibilities to fix dangerous cladding.

The proposals to alleviate the scandal that has trapped leaseholders in unsafe and unsellable homes come more than four years after the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, in which 72 people were killed.

So what has Michael Gove said about developers - and what did he reveal in his speech?

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has set a March deadline for developers to come up with cladding plan (image: Steve Parsons-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

What are the new rules for property developers? 

Developers must agree a £4 billion plan to fix dangerous cladding on low-rise flats by early March or risk new laws forcing them to act.

Potential action also includes restricting access to government funding and future procurements, the use of planning powers, and pursuing firms through the courts.

Leaseholders in buildings between 11m (36ft) and 18m (59ft) tall will no longer have to take out loans to cover the costs of remediation work despite no new money coming from the Treasury.

Instead, Mr Gove told developers to agree to start contributing this year to cover the “full outstanding cost”, which he estimates to be £4 billion.

The commitments also include that they must “fund and undertake” all works on buildings over 18m which they played a role in developing.

They were also ordered to provide comprehensive information on all buildings taller than 11m that have fire-safety defects and they helped construct in the last 30 years.

Grenfell Tower is pictured in west London on June 14, 2021, four years after a fire in the residential tower block killed 72 people. (image: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)

What did Michael Gove say in his Commons speech?

The Government will take “every step necessary” to ensure the building industry fixes the problem of dangerous cladding blighting thousands of leaseholders in medium rise blocks, Michael Gove has said.

Four and half years after the Grenfell fire exposed the dangers of cladding, the Housing Secretary said that no leaseholder living in a block above 11 metres would have to pay for fixing dangerous problems.

He confirmed that he had “an absolute assurance” from Chancellor Rishi Sunak that he was ready to impose taxes on the sector if they were not prepared to come forward with a solution.

“We will take action to end this scandal and protect leaseholders,” he said.

“We will make industry pay to fix all the remaining problems and help to cover range of costs facing leaseholders.

“Those who manufactured combustible cladding and insulation – many of whom have made vast profits, even at the height of the pandemic – they must pay now instead of leaseholders.”

Michael Gove defended his predecessor as Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, saying no-one else has “worked as hard” to “try to secure justice” for people living in buildings with dangerous cladding.

Mr Gove added that social housing was a “core” priority for the government.

A woman holds a bouquet of flowers as she looks at a memorial to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire who died in the 24-storey block as a large inferno spread. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)

What have campaigners and the Labour Party said?

Campaigners tentatively welcomed the plans as they trickled out over the weekend, but developers said they should not be the only ones responsible for the costs.

A spokesman for the End Our Cladding Scandal said they were “cautiously optimistic” over the plans but noted the “devil is in the detail”, with the letter saying the measures do not “extend to non-cladding” costs.

“It’s a welcome step in the right direction but there’s still a long road to travel,” he said.

Shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy said “promises are no substitute for a plan” as she urged the government to go further to protect leaseholders from the costs.

“We must have legally binding protection for leaseholders in law to defend them from the costs of these appalling failures, a fixed deadline which will bring an end to this nightmare and a Secretary of State who is able to marshal the resources and political will to take on the might of big money interests – and win,” the Labour MP said.

Shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy (image: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)

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