Julie James, Minister for Climate Change
Building safety is a priority for this Government. On the 14 July I announced the development of Phase 1 of the Welsh Building Safety Fund (WBSF). As part of that statement I committed the scheme would open this autumn. Today I am able to announce this essential phase for Responsible Persons of medium and high rise residential buildings in Wales to submit an Expressions of Interest will be open from tomorrow.
To design this first phase my officials established a Task and Finish group of key sector professionals and experts. To ensure the Building Remediation Passport proposal incorporated tenant/leaseholders’ viewpoints the group included representation from the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS). The Association of British Insurers and UK Finance were also represented on the group to ensure that issues in relation to insurances and mortgages were also covered. I would like to take the opportunity to thank all members of this group for their time and expertise.
While we have made progress on this highly complex issue by ensuring all identified buildings with ACM cladding have, or will soon be remediated at no additional costs to leaseholders and making £10.5m available last year to remediate affected buildings in the social sector we do not yet know exactly how many buildings are affected by fire safety defects, and to what extent. This critically important first phase will help us understand the true scale of the problem and what are the right solutions in order to properly address it.
This phased programme of support is the best way to ensure that we target remediation funding effectively to support leaseholders.
Developers still have a clear role to play in contributing to addressing safety defects where they exist in order to protect leaseholders from costs and this is a message I will reinforce with them at my roundtable meeting next week. While I have been pleased to see a number of developers setting aside funds for this I believe there is more that can, and should, be done by them.
Despite all my efforts I still haven’t received confirmation from UK Government on the level and timing of any consequential funding Wales may receive as a result of announcements by the UK Government earlier this year. I will continue to call for this and will inform Members when I have more information. But I will not allow the UK Government’s delay to hold us up.