Putting residents’ voices at the ‘heart of decision making’ on building safety
Climate Change Minister Julie James has said she will put residents’ voices at the heart of decision-making as she outlined the next steps to ensure people feel safe in their own homes.
Her pledge comes as work starts to deliver a £375m programme to address building safety issues as part of a whole-building approach, which goes beyond replacing just cladding defects.
The Minister has also unveiled the first details of a new Leaseholder Support Scheme, to help those people who are struggling financially and unable to sell their properties because of escalating costs associated with fire safety issues.
Applications for support will open in June.
The scheme will give eligible leaseholders an option to sell their property and, where appropriate, to either move on or rent the property back.
The Welsh Government has worked with partners and housing sector experts to identify an appropriate route for property valuation, with clear eligibility criteria to create a comprehensive property purchase process for leaseholders.
Work is ongoing to finalise the details, complete the legal checks and establish agreements before the scheme is launched.
Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, said:
“We have been working hard on a whole-building approach to building safety – to reform standards and repair defects – in buildings over 11m.
“This puts people’s safety first and is more complex and comprehensive than one which only deals with cladding. This also makes it more expensive.
“We believe developers should contribute towards the costs of fixing these problems. Leaseholders and residents should not have to foot the bill.
“We have allocated £375m over the next three years to invest in building safety work and, as we progress with these works, we will continue to listen to residents and leaseholders and put their voices at the heart of decision making.
“I want to ensure our building safety reforms are practical and accessible. It is important that people can both see and understand the benefits of reforms that we will deliver in Wales.”
The Welsh Building Safety Fund, which covers the cost of fire safety surveys, has identified more than 100 buildings from the first 248 applications where further more extensive and intrusive surveys are needed.
The surveys, which are already underway, will result in a detailed report which sets out the work required to address fire safety defects – an important milestone in the process to remediate identified issues.
In a further step to improve building safety, the Joint Inspection Team – a multi-disciplinary group, which will work in partnership with local authorities and fire and rescue authorities to raise standards – will have a strategic lead in post in the summer.
This work, together with the fundamental reform of building safety culture and legislation, forms the core of the Welsh Government’s plans to introduce a new building safety regime in Wales.
The reform of building safety legislation and the introduction of a second phase of the Welsh Building Safety fund is a commitment in the Co-operation Agreement.