NI: Remediation fund unveiled for unsafe external cladding

NI: Remediation fund unveiled for unsafe external cladding

The Northern Ireland Executive has launched a new £33 million fund for the remediation or mitigation of the life safety fire risks linked to external wall systems in residential buildings.

The fund, which comes six years after the Grenfell Tower fire in London, applies to residential buildings which are over 11 metres tall. It will be used to remediate or mitigate the fire risks associated with exterior wall cladding that is potentially unsafe.

It follows the launch of the Cladding Safety Scheme (CSS) to address life safety fire risks associated with cladding on residential buildings over 11m in height in England. Northern Ireland’s Department for Communities has formed an agreement with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) that Northern Ireland applications can be processed and delivered through the CSS. In Northern Ireland, it will be administered by Homes England as part of the English scheme.

In Northern Ireland, the CSS funding applies to residential buildings above 11m where a responsible developer cannot be identified, traced, or held responsible.

A spokesperson for the Department for Communities said: “This fund has been launched following ongoing consultation with residents, developers and owners of potentially affected buildings in Northern Ireland. Its primary aim is to make homes safe. However, it is also hoped that the fund will go some way restoring confidence to the market and easing the financial stress caused by inflated home insurance premiums and other associated costs for leaseholders who have been unable to sell their homes.”

The Cladding Safety Scheme opened for new funding applications from Northern Ireland applicants on 7 August 2023.

An initial pilot of the CSS opened in England in November last year, targeting a small number of buildings that have interim measures or simultaneous evacuation measures in place.

The pilot was expanded in 2023 and fully launched in England last month.

In Scotland, an in-principle agreement was reached with housing developers on the removal of unsafe cladding from buildings in May. 

The deal, which includes the industry body Homes for Scotland, could lead to companies which built the properties paying for the cladding work to be remediated.

Housing minister Paul McLennan said at the time that discussions had taken place around a Scottish Safer Buildings Accord, adding that the next stage was to agree “the long form legally-binding contract to support the remediation of developer-linked buildings with unsafe cladding”.

Scottish Conservative shadow housing minister Miles Briggs has spoken out on the “pitifully slow progress” shown by Scottish ministers following the announcement in Northern Ireland.

He said: “It’s absolutely damning that Northern Ireland, which hasn’t had a functioning executive since February 2022, is showing more urgency than the SNP government in tackling dangerous cladding.

“The UK government has provided more than £97m for this crucial work, yet the Nationalists have spent less than £2m of it to ensure that Scottish buildings are made safe. That’s pitifully slow progress. This dithering must stop.

“The highly combustible material that contributed to the Grenfell Tower tragedy has now been banned. Yet residents in Scotland’s tower blocks are still waiting.

“They deserve to know that this problem has been tackled. The resources have been made available, so ministers to need to get their act together and deliver.”

Share icon
Share this article: