On 24th May 2021 the Bishop of Blackburn asked a question on behalf of the Bishop of St Albans, on fire safety costs for leaseholders.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the (1) current, and (2) future, incidence of leaseholder bankruptcies attributable to remedial fire safety works and interim fire safety costs.
The Lord Bishop of Blackburn: My Lords, on behalf of my right reverend colleague, I ask the Question standing in his name on the Order Paper.
The Minister of State, Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (Lord Greenhalgh) (Con): It is not possible to make such assessments because it will depend on a professional fire risk assessment of individual buildings and the extent to which costs might be met by or recovered from developers, contractors or building warranties. In addition, we are unable to assess the potentially wide range of individual factors that could lead to people either losing their home or declaring bankruptcy due to additional costs.
The Lord Bishop of Blackburn: I thank the Minister for his reply. The Institute of Residential Property Management estimated the cost of non-cladding fire safety defects as between £26,000 and £38,000 per lease, depending on the height of the building. These are huge costs that will bankrupt residents, even within the Government’s grant and loan scheme. Will the Government consider including these specific defects in the provisions to exclude ordinary upgrade and maintenance costs in their forced loan scheme?
Lord Greenhalgh (Con): My Lords, I point out that our approach prioritises action on the risks of unsafe cladding, which is what accelerates fire. The costs for remediating this, and the risk posed by it, are high. We are putting in unprecedented sums to cover those costs.