Tenants of small buildings “are spared coating costs”

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Thousands of apartment owners will be spared the cost of removing hazardous coverings from buildings over 11 meters tall, government plans suggest.

In an apparent descent, Housing Secretary Michael Gove appears to be on the verge of pressuring developers to cover the cost of the coating changes estimated at £ 4bn instead.

A letter from the Treasury reported by BBC Newsnight suggests it will threaten taxation or legislation to pressure them to cover costs faced by tenants, without more money coming from the government.

Currently, only tenants in buildings over 18 meters tall can access grants to replace hazardous coatings under measures introduced in England after the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 72 people in 2017.

Chief Treasury Secretary Simon Clarke’s letter to Mr Gove on Wednesday said loans for small buildings would be replaced by a “limited grants program”.

“You can use a high-level ‘threat’ of tax or legal solutions in discussions with developers as a way to get voluntary contributions from them,” he says.

“I am glad to see that you recognize the principle that the taxpayer should not be held responsible for the additional costs of remediation. I repeat, my approval of this new package for buildings from 11 to 18 m is therefore conditional on the absence of new funding from the Exchequer.

A spokesperson for the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign said “the devil is in the details” with the letter saying the measures “do not extend to costs other than cladding.”

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

“It is not yet certain whether we will reach the destination we want to reach, but we are cautiously optimistic.”

The Daily Telegraph reported that an announcement on the measures is expected on Monday.

A spokesperson for the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government did not dispute the contents of the leaked letter, but added: “We will not comment on the speculations.”


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