A group of the largest housing associations in London has estimated the total cost of fire safety works to their residential stock in the capital at an eye-watering £6.87bn.
The G15 group says that combined they own 1,145 buildings over 18 metres in height with external wall systems of some kind. They have complained about unclear advice from the Government, which they say has created uncertainty for both landlords and residents.
Since the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, a number of HAs including Hyde, Southern Housing Group and L&Q have reported spending significant sums in making their buildings safe.
Now they are saying that further investigatory works are “pointing to potentially systemic issues in the construction of tall buildings”
They claim the sums involved in making their buildings safe to live in are challenging the financial viability of landlords, builders and the insurers, with more Government support badly needed.
The enormously high costs of safety works are also undermining the efforts of HAs wishing to build more affordable homes in London and the south-east, whether for rent or for outright sale, or shared ownership.
Helen Evans, chair of the G15 and chief executive of Network Homes, said: “The G15 is absolutely committed to ensuring our homes are safe for the people who live in them. We want to work with Government to ensure the current guidance is being interpreted as intended, both by building owners and other stakeholders. There are a significant number of affected buildings, so we need a collaborative and planned response across the sector.”
The National Housing Federation is supporting the G15 in calling on the Government to establish a building safety fund to pay for essential safety works so social landlords can carry these out as quickly as possible. The recently announced spending plans by the Government failed to include any significant new investment in social housing.
By Patrick Mooney, Editor