Homeowners ‘to be spared cladding costs’ - but 'it's not enough'

Developers won't foot the bill unless there's a law change, a campaigner tells ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen

Flat owners on the lower floors of high rise blocks will no longer have to pay for the removal of dangerous cladding, says the government.

Millions of home owners face huge bills to make their properties safe - many with costs exceeding £100,000 - because of regulations brought in following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Now ministers want developers to cover the costs of removing it for flats between 11 and 18 metres high - but they've been told "it's not enough."

Senior Tory MP Sir Peter Bottomley, who co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Leasehold and Commonhold Reform, urged the government to go further.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “From what we’re hearing, progress is being made - it’s not enough.”

He added “we need to get the money, spend it properly, and we need to overcome the hurdle” of indemnity funding so landlords can make claims from developers and manufacturers.

In October last year, ITV News spoke to a young mum who "cried for weeks" after being told the flat she paid almost £60,000 for was "valueless." Zoe Bartley is among millions who could be hit with massive bills to cover repairs for which they bear no responsibility.

Victims of the cladding scandal have told ITV News they are facing bankruptcy over the cost of making their flats safe, despite being told they were safe when forking out tens of thousands of pounds just four years ago.

First time buyer Sophie Bichener was told by her housing management company in August that she needed to pay £208,000 in order to make her property safe - she paid £230,000 for her flat in 2017, just one month before Grenfell.

She's since been diagnosed with anxiety after learning her flat in Hertfordshire, is now "worth minus £208,000" because safety defects mean "the property itself is valued at zero, and then you've got a bill 208,000 pounds to make it worth anything", she said.

Fire service personnel survey the damage to Grenfell Tower Credit: Rick Findler/PA

A spokesman for the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign said the “devil is in the detail”, with the letter saying the measures do not “extend to non-cladding” costs.

“It’s a welcome step in the right direction but there’s still a long road to travel,” he said.

“It’s not definite still if we are getting to the destination we want to get to but we are cautiously optimistic."

The BBC and the Daily Telegraph reported that an announcement on the measures is expected on Monday.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman did not dispute the contents of the leaked letter, but added: “We will not comment on speculation.”