The Government have this week made public major new plans to address building cladding life safety fire risks in the private and social sector – cladding remediation and enforcement in residential buildings over 11 metres across England, and up to 18 metres in London.
The Medium Rise Scheme (MRS) has been rebranded to the Cladding Safety Scheme (CSS), following its pilot, the new scheme forming part of the Building Remediation Portfolio, the objective of which is to ensure the risk to resident’s fire safety is addressed and the cost taken on by the building industry rather than residential or commercial leaseholders.
What We Know So Far
What Will the CSS Do?
The person or organisation legally responsible for the building’s external repairs (called the Responsible Entity) will be supported by the CSS in their application in the event they cannot pay for remediation work themselves, or feel it is not their place to do so.
Following a successful application, Homes England will distribute funds for cladding remediation works as part of the scheme, either via pre-tender grants or full cost funding.
How Is Application Made?
The Responsible Entity will firstly need to set up an account and begin an application for funding to the CSS – once this is complete they need to complete a Fire Risk Appraisal of External Wall construction (FRAEW), using the CSS’s dedicated panel of Fire Risk Assessors. Homes England will then review the application and ensure the Responsible Entity is verified to apply.
Work must have started on or after 10th January 2022 to apply and must originally comply with the PAS 9980:2022 guidance. For any buildings with external walls made from masonry or concrete or combustible materials found only in double skin masonry walls, advice should be taken from the CSS as how to proceed.
Who Can Be The Responsible Entity?
- The building’s freeholder or head leaseholder
- A registered provider of social housing
- A management company (whether this operates for commercial gain or is managed by residents for the benefit of residents)
- A Right to Manage (RTM) Company that has primary responsibility for the repair of the property
or a representative of any of the above – proof will be required to show the representative can act legally on behalf of the Responsible Entity. These can also be companies legally registered outside of the UK but a UK representative will need to be appointed.
Will There Be Enforcement?
Once the application has been made, applicants will need to ensure they set up a realistic delivery project delivery schedule – if this is not followed local authorities and fire services have now been given the power by Homes England the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to consider enforcement action.
Who Or What Is Exempt?
The CSS will only fund works that are recommended in the FRAEW to address life safety fire risks. It will not fund any remedial works intended for other purposes.
Any residential developers who have agreed to take on the funding of remedial works to external cladding will not be eligible to funding by Homes England. These are developers who have signed the Developer Pledge. It is up to applicants to check who originally developed their building. Any developers or Responsible Entities who cannot fund their own remedial works can cover any reasonable eligible costs via the CSS application.
Leaseholders making application will also not be accepted (unless they are or act for the Responsible Entity).
The CSS will not offer funding for the below types of buildings:
- Buildings where works started on site before 10 January 2022
- Non-residential buildings, for example hotels, hospitals, offices, and buildings where there are no residential leaseholders. This is likely to include purpose-built student housing and build to rent schemes (unless these are residential buildings applying from the social sector under the financial viability route)
- Buildings under 11 metres in height
- Buildings over 18 metres in height in London. These may be eligible for the Building Safety Fund
How Do I Know If My Building Qualifies?
The building should be measured from the lowest external ground point to the finished floor level of the highest (occupied) storey.
These don’t include:
- Any top storeys or roofs consisting exclusively of plant rooms or maintenance areas
- Non-residential facilities (such as storage or drying rooms or gyms)
- External amenity (such as bars or roof gardens)
- Areas similar to these, even though people may regularly be present in such areas
The Cladding Safety Scheme overview provides a useful diagram to aid height requirement eligibility.
What Will The CSS Fund?
- Works directly related to the recommendations of a FRAEW (following PAS9980:2022 methodology) conducted on a building with cladding. This could be the removal and replacement of cladding (in whole or part), or mitigations where these are proposed as an alternative to the replacement of cladding (e.g. installation of sprinkler systems, smoke alarms, etc)
- Access, where apportioned appropriately and directly related to eligible works (e.g. scaffolding, mast climber etc.)
- Removal and disposal of existing cladding that is associated with fire risk
- Replacement materials
- Labour and reasonable costs to the contractor
- Reimbursing costs of a FRAEW if it meets our eligibility requirements
- Professional team fees in respect of qualifying items
- Managing agents’ fees for managing works in the CSS and keeping leaseholders and residents informed about the works
- Extraordinary technical requirements which incur extra costs essential to but not normally associated with removing and replacing cladding may be included. If you believe this applies to your works, please supply evidence for Homes England to consider your request
- Legal costs which an applicant is unable to recover, having successfully taken legal action to recover the cost of works to cladding from the original owner, developer or cladding installer. The grant funding agreement requires applicants to take reasonable steps to recover the cost of works to cladding, where possible. Where an applicant is successful in taking legal action to cover these costs, Homes England accepts that any legal costs incurred should be deducted from any settlement money, but reserves its right to ensure that these costs have been reasonably incurred as part of the legal process