Re: Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Grenfell Tower Fallout
Posted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 10:29 pm
where I live the affordable housing that has been built was immediately turned into holiday lets!
Number of empty homes in England rises to more than 216,000.
Long-term vacant homes now account for £53.6bn of property, analysis finds.
The number of empty homes across England has risen for the second consecutive year to more than 216,000, the highest level since 2012, according to official figures.
The number of long-term vacant properties – those that have been empty for at least six months – rose by 5.3% to 216,186 in the 12 months to October, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It is the highest level since 2012, when 254,059 properties were empty.
The rise compares with a 2.6% increase the previous year – before that, the number of empty homes had fallen every year since 2008.
Analysis by modular home and school builder Project Etopia shows long-term vacant homes now account for £53.6bn of property in England.
Coastal towns and cities, led by Portsmouth, posted the biggest percentage rise in long-term empty homes in the year to October: the number more than doubled to 939.
Hartlepool, in northern England, had the second-biggest rise, up 53.8% to 726, while Eastbourne, on the south coast, posted the third-largest increase, rising 48.4% to 518.
The number of long-term empty homes in London has also gone up, by 11% to 22,481 — representing £10.7bn worth of property.
Outside the capital, Birmingham had the highest overall number in England, with 4,283 long-term vacant homes, up slightly from 4,280; followed by Durham with 4,130, Bradford with 4,090 and Liverpool with 3,889. However, in Durham and Liverpool the number of empty homes fell by 9% and 4.8% respectively.
The Project Etopia chief executive, Joseph Daniels, said: “The stubbornly high number of empty homes is compounding the housing market’s deeply entrenched problems with lack of supply remaining a key driver of high prices and low affordability.
“New homes are not being built fast enough and the constant spectre of abandoned properties aggravates an already tough market, particularly for first-time buyers who desperately want to claim the keys to their first property.”
Within London, Southwark, with 1,766 vacant properties, had the biggest number of empty homes. Croydon, to the south of the capital, had the second-highest number of long-term empty homes with 1,521, followed by Camden in the north, with 1,210.
Grenfell residents’ rights were breached – equalities watchdog.
Both central and local government strongly criticised by EHRC report into tragedy.
The human rights of Grenfell Tower residents were breached by the council and central government before the disaster that killed 72 people, according to a hard-hitting report by the government’s own equalities watchdog.
Residents’ rights to life and adequate housing were contravened before the fire started on 14 June 2017, including by allowing the use of combustible cladding and allocating flats high in the building to elderly and disabled people, many of whom died.
After a 15-month investigation, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said “the state either knew, or ought to have known, of the real and immediate risk to life posed by the cladding on Grenfell Tower”, and that regulation had failed and that it had also failed to tell residents about the dangers they faced.
It also criticised official handling of the fire’s aftermath, citing witnesses who alleged that the response of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Home Office had been “overshadowed by racism”.
The body has a statutory duty to promote awareness of and protection of human rights in the UK, and its inquiry is the first into the disaster to conclude.
It came as frustration grows among some of the bereaved and survivors at what they consider to be the slow pace of the main public inquiry. Hearings for the second phase of the inquiry investigating the causes of the disaster won’t start this year and police said last week that any decision on possible manslaughter and corporate manslaughter charges is not expected before 2021.
“Everyone has the right to life and the right to safe adequate housing, but the residents of Grenfell Tower were tragically let down by the public bodies that had a duty to protect them,” said David Isaac, the chairman of the EHRC.
The EHRC pointed the finger at the central government and at Kensington and Chelsea, which owned the tower. It said the use of combustible cladding raised questions about “whether the UK has met its duty to protect life”. It warned that, with 354 high-rise residential and public buildings with ACM cladding yet to be fixed, “the failure to protect lives and violation of article 2 [of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to life)] continues”.
“Grenfell raises many questions about the suitability of the housing in the tower, for example, placing older, vulnerable and disabled people on upper floors,” it said. “Many of the people killed by the fire were older people who were housed at height.”
Firefighters have told the inquiry they did not know how to tackle the fire in the building’s cladding, and the watchdog said the government would be in breach of its duties under the European convention on human rights if it did not train firefighters to do so. It must also reconsider stay-put policies for buildings with similar cladding. Many Grenfell residents died after following advice to stay in their flats which was based on any fire remaining being contained.
Other issues that could amount to breaches of human rights include a lack of planning for what to do with evacuated residents, poor and sometimes non-existent consultation with residents and that “responsible authorities did not make reasonable adjustments for disabled people living in Grenfell Tower”.
It said: “The state has failed, and continues to fail, to meet its equality and non-discrimination obligations, in particular in relation to disabled people, older people, women and children and, in particular, ethnic minority groups.”
In response, officials at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government stressed that ministers are determined to ensure a tragedy like Grenfell can never happen again, that it is reforming building regulations and has has banned combustible cladding on high-rise residential buildings, as well as hospitals, residential care homes and student halls.
“There is nothing more important than ensuring people are safe in their homes and those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy receive the support they need,” a spokesperson said. “The government is committed to supporting the community in the long term and ensuring those affected get the justice they deserve.”
Cllr Elizabeth Campbell, the leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, said it would learn from the report. “That is part of our commitment in making sure Grenfell never happens again, whatever it takes and whatever the consequences for the council.”
Chancellor offers £3bn fix for Britain's " Broken housing market. "
Philip Hammond’s spring statement includes funding to build 30,000 affordable homes.
A new £3bn scheme will fund the building of 30,000 affordable homes, the chancellor has said, as he proclaimed that the government was on track to reach its target of 300,000 new homes a year in Britain.
Philip Hammond’s spring statement also contained a patchwork of separate schemes to boost housebuilding, including £717m to “unlock up to 37,000 homes” in the Oxford-Cambridge arc, Cheshire and west London.
“The government is determined to fix the broken housing market,” said Hammond. “Building more homes in the right places is critical to unlocking productivity growth and makes housing more affordable.”
Under the affordable homes guarantee scheme – an existing programme that will receive renewed government support – the government does not directly fund new homes but gives a Treasury guarantee to housing associations to allow them to build.
The housing charity Shelter said while it welcomed the boost for affordable homes, borrowing by housing associations would not solve the housing crisis, and the government needed to fund much higher levels of social housing.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The government’s decision to renew the affordable housing guarantee scheme is a welcome announcement. This initiative will support the building of more desperately needed social and affordable homes.
“While this is good news, it has to be noted that we can’t deliver social housing on the scale we need on borrowing alone – 3.1m social homes are needed in the next 20 years to tackle the housing crisis at its root and lift thousands of families out of homelessness. We need much more grant funding for social housing in this year’s spending review to get a grip on our ever-growing housing emergency.”
Official government figures show that affordable homes – for sale or to rent – make up a relatively small, but growing, part of the housing supply in England.
In the six months to 30 September 2018, there were 9,909 new affordable homes started, up from 6,989 in the same period of 2017.
The definition of what “affordable” means is controversial. The government defines it as “social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market”. It includes shared ownership homes for sale “provided at a cost above social rent, but below market levels”.
But some shared ownership homes come at eye-watering prices. Currently a shared ownership two-bed flat in London is on sale for £985,000 at full market value, with the buyer taking a 25% share and expected to find £2,469 a month in mortgage and rent repayments.
In recent weeks reports have suggested that some housing associations in the London area have been left with hundreds of unsold shared ownership properties.
Tenants in England not being protected from revenge evictions, study finds.
Only 5% of those who complained about conditions were protected by councils.
Just one in 20 private tenants who complain to their council about poor living conditions gets protection from a revenge eviction by their landlord, according to figures released today.
Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the housing campaign group Generation Rent suggests that local authorities in England are failing to use their full powers to protect tenants.
Even when the most severe hazards, such as mould or broken stairs, is found in a rented home, tenants only get protection from eviction in one in every five cases, the group added.
The data is the latest example of councils being accused of failing to use all of their powers to clamp down on rogue landlords, following a Guardian and ITV News investigation last year which found that convicted landlords, who have been ruled unfit to rent out their properties, are continuing to operate by exploiting gaps in a law that is supposed to protect the most vulnerable tenants.
Landlords can legally evict their tenants without a reason – a so-called section 21 eviction in housing jargon.
But section 21 evictions are invalid for six months after a council has served an improvement notice on the property, as such moves by landlords are thought to constitute revenge evictions that are being sought in response to a tenant complaining about conditions in their home. There must normally be a severe “category 1” hazard in the property for the council to take this action.
According to Generation Rent, the 99 English councils that responded to its FOI request received a total of 67,026 complaints about housing in 2017-18. Those complaints resulted in 3,043 improvement notices on landlords, meaning that 5% of those tenants were protected from eviction.
The campaign group added that there were 12,592 category 1 hazards recorded by 78 councils in 2017-18. However, 2,545 improvement notices were served as a result, equating to 20% of cases and leaving the remaining tenants with no protection from eviction.
Dan Wilson Craw, the director of Generation Rent, said: “These figures demonstrate that despite powers and protections, tenants living in squalid homes are being let down by their councils. If landlords are free to evict tenants who complain about disrepair then we cannot expect the quality of private rented homes to improve.”
Victory for 100,000 who were trapped in unsellable homes by toxic leasehold deals as MPs slam crippling ground rents and demand a change in law.
New report accuses housing firms of exploiting buyers with leasehold contracts.
These contracts impose crippling ground rents and ‘excessive’ fees on buyers.
Ministers have already banned the sale of new houses with these toxic deals.
But MPs say there is no excuse for not helping 100,000 victims already affected.
The law must be changed to help families stuck in toxic leasehold deals escape their unsellable homes, MPs are demanding tomorrow.
In a highly critical report, the House of Commons housing committee says there is no excuse for not helping the estimated 100,000 victims of the scandal.
The committee’s findings are a major victory for campaigners and the Daily Mail, which has led the way in exposing the use of rip-off leases by developers.
Its report accuses big housing firms of exploiting buyers with leasehold contracts that impose crippling ground rents and ‘excessive’ fees on everything from building conservatories to changing carpets.
In some cases, these can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds and make it impossible to sell the homes.
The MPs also lambast solicitors for failing to warn clients about the rip-off deals and say some are too cosy with developers.
Ministers have already banned the sale of new houses with the toxic deals. However, the report calls for them to go further and consider law changes to help existing victims of the practice.
It calls for a full-blown inquiry into the sale of leasehold properties after widespread claims that many families were victims of mis-selling, with some calling it ‘the PPI of the housing industry’.
Committee chairman Clive Betts said: ‘I’d like to recognise the work the Mail has done to highlight the plight of ordinary people who have been affected by this scandal.’
The report came just a day after housing giant Persimmon, which was among developers that sold leasehold homes, revealed it paid bosses nearly £90million in a single year.
The company has been heavily criticised over fat-cat pay, with critics saying it has made record profits off the back of the taxpayer-funded Help to Buy scheme.
After hours of testimony and an ‘unprecedented’ number of submissions by the public, the committee’s report:
Says it is ‘legally possible’ for the Government to intervene and help victims of the leasehold scandal;
Calls for a complete overhaul of the leasehold system and says ground rents on all properties, including flats, should only be ‘peppercorn’ amounts in future;
Backs calls for the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate the sale of leasehold homes, and;
Says developers should be banned from offering buyers deals to use their recommended solicitors.
Many of the buyers MPs heard from were unaware of the differences between freehold and leasehold when they bought their home.
Leaseholders, in effect, purchase the right to live in a property for an agreed period rather than owning it outright.
Obligations tend to be imposed on them, such as the payment of a ground rent or fees for making alterations on a property. Government figures suggest there are 4.2 million leasehold properties in England.
Mr Betts said: ‘Developers abused their market dominance and exploited consumers, using a model that did not fully explain what was involved in leasehold properties. The weight of evidence we have received from people who bought their properties and feel they have been wrongly advised or misled is overwhelming.
‘It is simply not enough to deal only with future leasehold sales. Families sold inappropriate leases with unfair conditions urgently need help from the Government.’
Sebastian O’Kelly, from campaign group Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, said: ‘This report amounts to a demolition of the leasehold system. It is devastating about how developers have taken their customers – and us, the wider taxpayers – for a ride by squirrelling in an investment asset in the homes of ordinary families.
It is clear MPs think developer-recommended solicitors have been little more than stooges – dumping their supposed clients in onerous lease terms. Some – the doubling of ground rents – have made these properties unsellable.’
Last night Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said: ‘I have repeatedly made clear my ambition to end those exploitative and unfair arrangements that have no place in a modern housing market.
‘That’s why I’ve announced plans to fundamentally reform the leasehold system. I have called on the Competition Markets Authority to investigate alleged abuses and market failure as a matter of urgency and have been clear that I will consider further action, including legislation, if necessary.’
Councils' powers to remove Grenfell-style cladding " Useless."
Exclusive : councils complain government’s backing amounts to " Completely hollow words. "
New powers for councils to step in and fix privately owned towers covered with dangerous Grenfell-style cladding are proving largely useless, leaving tens of thousands of leaseholders living in fear and facing mounting multimillion-pound bills, the Guardian has learned.
As few as one in 10 of the affected private tower blocks clad in ACM panels similar to those that spread the fire at Grenfell Tower can be tackled by councils, according to Manchester city council, which has been struggling to persuade the owners of 15 apartment blocks to take urgent safety action.
In November the housing secretary, James Brokenshire, announced that town halls had government backing to take control of affected buildings and carry out works in response to the refusal of many developers and freehold investors to act. He pledged that town halls had “the government’s full backing, including financial support if necessary,” and said: “Everyone has a right to feel safe in their homes.”
But no councils are believed to have yet used the new powers, which two of the most affected areas, Manchester and Tower Hamlets, in London, have said apply only to buildings that meet very strict criteria. Gary Porter, the chair of the Local Government Association, is lobbying ministers to fund works directly.
One senior council official described the system as “an absolute mess” and said freeholders had assessed the powers that the government had announced and concluded they were weak. UK Cladding Action Group, which represents affected leaseholders said it showed Brokenshire’s announcement amounted to “completely hollow words”.
Ministers have made £400m available to fix social housing blocks, and remedial works have been completed or started in 79% of cases. But only 6% of the private apartment blocks identified as using the now banned aluminium composite material cladding panels have been fixed. Twenty-one months after the Grenfell fire claimed 72 lives, works have yet to start on 154 private residential blocks.
Suzanne Richards, Manchester city council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, said: “The current powers government has given councils only apply to limited cases – perhaps only 10 or 20% – where building owners refuse to act.
“What we now really need to see is for government to step in to offer leaseholders a genuine lifeline, by creating a fund that will pay for cladding works directly.”
The crisis is affecting tens of thousands of households including 1,370 in Leeds, 484 in Reading and 400 in Bournemouth, according to freedom of information requests. More leaseholders are affected in Tower Hamlets than anywhere else, with 42 private towers still not fixed. The borough confirmed that very few buildings posed the “category one” safety risk required for the powers to take effect due to their cladding.
“We have been in contact with the owners or managing agents of all high-rise residential properties with ACM in the borough,” a Tower Hamlets council spokesman said. “We have requested detailed plans for remedial work and we will use our enforcement powers where possible when this work is not forthcoming.”
There are also 29 affected private blocks in Greenwich, 12 in Westminster and 10 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, councils have told the Guardian in FoI responses.
Councils have to demonstrate problems with insulation, cladding and firebreaks as well as the presence of an acute fire trigger such as gas supply, and that the building has no waking watch in place, for a building to be classed as a category one risk, according to Manchester city council. If developers or freeholders have shown they are willing to take action, those buildings will not qualify for council intervention, even if that involves passing costs on to leaseholders.
“[The government announcement] has been a way to appease the larger public to show it is taking the necessary action,” said Rituparna Saha, a founder of UKCAG and resident at Northpoint in Bromley, London, whose freeholder is refusing to pay for works, leaving leaseholders facing £70,000 bills. The company that owns the freehold is owned by the family trust of the multimillionaire property mogul Vincent Tchenguiz.
She and her neighbours have been forced to arrange a rota to conduct 24-hour waking watches to keep costs down, and several residents said the stress and financial worry had damaged their physical and mental health.
Last month Colin Smith, a Bromley councillor, complained about the powers in a letter to Brokenshire, saying: “Expectations have been raised without solutions yet being set in place to deliver them.”
The housing ministry said the powers were available only “under certain circumstances”. It said: “We have been abundantly clear that unsafe cladding systems which do not comply with building regulations must be replaced and leaseholders must be protected from costs. We will also support councils who use the full range of enforcement powers at their disposal to ensure that action is taken by building owners to remove unsafe cladding.”
Even with some developers and owners agreeing to pay, particularly in cases where they fear reputational damage, Manchester estimates that 60% of leaseholders will be left to pay huge bills if they want to make their homes safe.
One of the latest blocks to be affected by a dispute over fire safety is Skyline in Manchester, where leaseholders have been sent bills of up to £27,000 each to fix issues with non-ACM cladding and faulty fire breaks.
Residents said in a statement: “Not being able to feel safe in your own home is something that causes extreme anxiety and stress. We hope all those involved will take every available step to find a rapid solution to this distressing situation.”
Too poor to play : children in social housing blocked from communal playground.
In a move reminiscent of the " Poor doors " scandal, a London developer has segregated play areas for richer and poorer residents.
At least one multimillion-pound housing development in London is segregating the children of less well-off tenants from those of wealthier homebuyers by blocking them from some communal play areas.
Guardian Cities has discovered that developer Henley Homes has blocked social housing residents from using shared play spaces at its Baylis Old School complex on Lollard Street, south London. The development was required to include a mix of “affordable” and social rental units in order to gain planning permission.
Henley marketed the award-winning 149-home development, which was built in 2016 on the site of a former secondary school, as inclusive and family-friendly. It said the “common areas are there for the use of all the residents”.
But the designs were altered after planning permission was granted to block the social housing tenants from accessing the communal play areas.
Salvatore Rea, who lives in a rented affordable flat with his wife, Daniella, and their three children, says the residents of the complex are very aware of the disparity. “My children are friends with all the other children on this development – but when it is summer they can’t join them.
The situation is reminiscent of the ongoing “poor doors” controversy, where social housing residents are forced to use side doors to apartment blocks that also contain private flats.
The Rea family lives in Wren Mews, the social housing building of the complex, which forms one side of a playground square. The other three sides of the square are buildings dedicated to private owners, renters and shared ownership accommodation. Those from the three private forms of housing can access the playground, but children from Wren Mews cannot.
The original planning documents, which were approved by Lambeth Council and went through public consultation, showed gates from all the flats giving access to the main play area. But before residents moved in, the designs were altered – with permission from Lambeth – to transform the gates from Wren Mews into impassable hedges.
“As soon as we moved in, the caretaker said to us, ‘That’s private: those people bought their houses, so they get to play there,’” Daniella Rea said.
Henley Homes and Lambeth Council say the duty to provide play space for under-fives has been discharged, because there is a small strip of toddler play equipment specifically for the social housing children.
Ironically, the site is a former state school, where Rea was herself a pupil. In the main courtyard, the developers preserved the original school signs, which exhort residents and passersby to ‘Put learning first’. Beneath the signs, two wrought-iron statues of children strike playful poses.
Rea claims Guinness Homes, the management company now running Wren Mews, originally said her children would be able to use the play spaces.
“We were told we could use all the play areas. This was important to me because my son is in a wheelchair and he has a special bike that I wanted to let him use.” She says the bike and wheelchair are too heavy to carry to the nearest park.
The original planning application does not mention separate access for residents of different tenure.
The play strategy for the development says: “There is a network of courtyards and open spaces ... which will provide attractive areas for informal play. This will emphasise the sense of community within the scheme stressing that the common areas are there for the use of all the residents.”
It adds: “It is important to encourage children to cycle, use roller skates and skateboard.” No space is available to the residents of Wren Mews for these activities.
Dinah Bornat, an architect and expert on child-friendly design who advises planners, local authorities and the mayor of London, called the development “segregation” and said she has raised it with senior planners at the Greater London Authority.
“Everyone I have told, at the highest level, has been absolutely horrified to hear that our planning system is not robust enough to stop this happening,” she said.
“To see hedges where plans showed gates, to see a segregated small play area for the social housing residents, while their children directly overlook a much nicer play area is appalling.”
She says it is an abuse of the planning process if developers make such fundamental alterations after the plans have been through a public consultation.
“They are allowed to make minor changes,” she noted. “But what they have done here is altered the layout to block access to social housing residents. We have to ask: was this a cynical move?”
Lambeth Council insisted the situation was unavoidable, and said it bears no responsibility for the site now that it has been built. The council said the small gated strip of play equipment near the back of the social housing unit discharges the duty of providing play space for children under five years old.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the council said: “The plans or conditions do not control which residents have access to specific areas.”
Henley Homes, the developer, said it was only responsible for the private and shared ownership buildings, and that it had handed the freehold of the Wren Mews social housing block to Guinness Homes, a social housing company. It said this is a standard practice when there are different tenures on one development.
“This deal structure was agreed with Guinness right at the start, as a method for them to best manage their freehold for the benefit of residents. Wren Mews is a separate, albeit closely neighbouring block with its own access,” said Suze Jones, a spokesperson for Henley Homes.
Guinness Homes said it has no control over anything but the social housing block, and could not control access to the private areas of the development.
Warwick Estates, the company that manages the private part of the development, strongly defended its decision to keep the social housing residents out of the shared spaces.
“Although, as you state, the block overlooks the swing area, the residents have no access to it. This is for [a] very good reason – being that [they] do not contribute towards the service charges,” said Emma Blaney of Warwick Estates. “This is in no way discriminatory but fair and reasonable.”
The Green party leader and GLA member Sian Berry said plans for another site in development in Camden, north London, also feature segregated play areas.
“The worst thing was they were both rooftop play areas and the better-off kids were looking down on the poorer children with no way to reach them,” she said of the plans.
Berry said she has asked the mayor to ban segregated play areas in new developments.
Louise Whitely, a private owner from the Lilian Baylis development, says she wants the gates put back in so her children can play with their friends.
“We bought a flat here because it was marketed as family-friendly and there were photos of children playing all over the site,” she said. “But now our children’s friends look down from their windows and can’t come and join us. We want them to be given back the access that was shown in the original plans.”
The existence of “poor doors”, where less wealthy residents of developments are required to use separate entrances, caused widespread controversy when it was uncovered five years ago. The practice continues.
Meanwhile last year affordable housing residents in Royal Wharf, a development in east London, complained about segregation after being told they could not share the use of a swimming pool and gym on the site because they did not pay the relevant service charge.
40,000 people still living in deadly Grenfell-style tower blocks.
Exclusive: Campaigners condemn " National disgrace " as figures reveal 16,600 homes wrapped in banned flammable material.
Nearly 40,000 people in the UK are still living in tower blocks wrapped in the same type of flammable cladding which covered Grenfell Tower, new government figures suggest.
Some 16,600 homes across 163 private residential buildings are covered in Aluminium Composite Material (ACM), which was banned in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, according to the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The Labour Party, which obtained the figures, estimated 39,840 people were living in the affected buildings nearly two years after 72 people were killed in a blaze at the west London tower block.
The calculation is based on average household size as defined by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
“These figures show the sheer number of residents in private blocks across the country who are still in grave danger,” Sarah Jones, Labour’s shadow housing minister, told The Independent.
“Many of them are trapped in costly legal battles with freeholders, building developers and insurance companies.”
ACM cladding, which has a combustible polyethylene core, has been blamed for the rapid spread of the Grenfell Tower fire.
The 24-storey residential block in North Kensington was consumed by flames after a blaze broke out in the kitchen of a fourth-floor flat in the early hours of 14 June.
In November 2018, in response to the disaster, the government banned the installation of combustible materials including ACM cladding in high-rise residential buildings.
But the ban does not apply retrospectively to buildings which already have the panels fitted.
Last year the government agreed to create a £400m fund for social sector landlords to remove ACM cladding.
While all social sector blocks have now removed the material or have a plan in place to do so, Labour said just 10 private residential blocks have done the same.
Ms Jones added: “The housing secretary must take firm action, using Labour’s six-point plan for the cladding crisis as a blueprint to get this work done. People’s safety must be our number one priority.”
In March 2018, residents in a number of private ACM-clad tower blocks created the UK Cladding Action Group, to help raise awareness of the issue.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that we are almost two years on since Grenfell and so many people are still living in buildings with dangerous cladding on,” William Martin, one of the group’s three founders, told The Independent.
“The fact that there is even one building remaining with this type of cladding on is a national disgrace.
“The stress and concern associated with our safety and the cost implications cannot be underestimated.”
Mr Martin added leaseholders living in such properties were unable to sell or remortgage them, leaving 40,000 people “stuck in limbo, with their lives on total hold.”