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Social landlords could face a £10bn bill to ‘to fix fire safety problems’

The government is being urged to fund a bailout to help social landlords avoid a £10bn bill to fix fire safety problems, including the removal and replacement of unsafe cladding on high rise housing in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The calls are coming from the National Housing Federation (NHF) and social landlords, with the future of the social housing sector said to be in jeopardy unless the government funds a bailout. 

The estimated £10bn costs, which some view as a conservative estimate, is significantly more than the £400m put aside by the government so far to ‘fix fire safety problems’ identified post Grenfell.

This comes as the government was lobbied to provide a ‘separate bailout of private leaseholders’ for about £2bn to assist ‘hundreds of thousands of homeowners’ who are unable to sell or mortgage homes in affected blocks. 

NHF chief executive Kate Henderson said: “Housing associations are doing everything they can to make their buildings safe as quickly as possible. However, following the latest advice from the government, the potential costs of this huge programme of work are spiralling. We are calling on the government to provide a building safety fund to cover the upfront costs of these essential works, so they can be carried out quickly and efficiently.

“Without this funding there is likely to be a detrimental impact on housing associations’ ability to build much-needed new affordable homes and provide services to their residents and their local community.”

“The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “The government has taken urgent action on building safety, including committing £600m for remediating high-rise buildings with unsafe ACM cladding in the social and private sectors. Residents’ safety remains our upmost priority. Cost should not be a barrier to remediation and there is no excuse for building owners not ensuring that residents are safe in their homes.”

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