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UK's housebuilders commit $6.5 billion to fix cladding

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By Reuters
UK housing industry commits $6.5 billion for safety measures
UK housing industry commits $6.5 billion for safety measures   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

-The UK government said on Wednesday it had agreed to a 5 billion pound ($6.50 billion) deal with housebuilders to eradicate flammable cladding on buildings over 11 meters high.

Removing the material became critical after the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy, when more than 70 people died in a fire in a high-rise block in London, triggering an inquiry into building safety.

UK Housing Secretary Michael Gove has used a carrot-and-stick approach to tackle the issue, forcing housebuilders including top London-listed firms to sign up for the safety pledge, mainly on cladding repair works.

Under the new agreement, over 35 developers have committed a minimum of 2 billion pounds to fix their own buildings built in the last 30 years, while the industry will also pay an estimated 3 billion pounds over the next 10 years through an expansion to the Building Safety Levy.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said there was little time left for any company that had not signed up. Those which refused would face consequences, it said.

Britain in January ordered housebuilders to pay around $5.4 billion to help remove cladding from buildings after an outcry over occupants of flats in high-rise buildings bearing the brunt of the costs.

Since then, the Home Builders Federation, companies and other stakeholders have been in talks with government on paying for the cost of removing cladding on buildings between 11 and 18 metres high.

Buildings over 18 metres high are already covered by a 3 billion pound grant from the government and 2 billion pounds from a surcharge on listed housebuilders, which started this month.

($1 = 0.7696 pounds)