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Grenfell measures slammed by Disability groups

11 February 2021

Housing Minister Robert Jenrick has announced another £3.5 billion of funding to remove and replace unsafe cladding from towerblocks.

The announcement comes three and a half years after the Grenfell Tower disaster in which 72 people died, including Disabled people.

Leaseholder Disability action group CladDAG has accused the government of failing to do enough for Disabled residents in the wake of the disaster. It says that £15 billion is needed for the removal of cladding, which will result in the £3.5 billion becoming a lottery, and that the funding doesn’t cover flammable balconies, and missing firestopping in buildings.

It has also been critical of the government’s lack of impetus to put in place evacuation plans for Disabled people, and highlighted how the funding will only be given to buildings which are six storeys and taller, leaving Disabled residents living in the upper storeys of lower rise blocks at the same risk they ever were, and living in ongoing fear and anxiety about their safety in case of fire.

Robert Jenrick said: “We continue to take a safety-led approach and this funding will focus on the higher-rise buildings where the independent expert advisory panel tells us – time and again – the overwhelming majority of the safety risk lies, in line with the existing building safety fund and the anticipated scope of the new building safety regulator that we’re establishing and will shortly be legislating for.

“This will ensure that we end the cladding scandal in a way that is fair and generous to leaseholders.”

With regards to buildings with less than six storeys, he said: “The Government will develop a long-term scheme to protect leaseholders in this situation, with financial support for cladding remediation on buildings between four and six storeys.

“Under a long-term low-interest scheme, no leaseholder will ever pay more than £50 a month towards the removal of unsafe cladding, many far less. Taken together this means the Government is providing more than £5 billion including a further £3.5 billion announced today plus the significant cost of the very generous financing scheme which will run for many years to come to ensure all leaseholders in medium and high-rise blocks face no costs or very low costs if cladding remediation is needed."

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “The government funding proposals aren’t enough to protect leaseholders. They don’t cover the full costs of removing cladding for those covered by the scheme and leave many leaseholders out completely. Disabled people are often on very low incomes and will not be able to shoulder the financial burden.

“The safety considerations affecting Disabled leaseholders, who wouldn’t be able to evacuate from buildings in the case of  fire aren’t addressed at all. This puts the lives of Disabled people at risk. It is seriously affecting the mental health of Disabled leaseholders, forcing people to live in fear of fire and feeling unsafe in their own homes.”