Michael Gove's ultimatum: Developers must come up with £4bn cladding plan or risk new laws imposed

Credit: PA

The Housing Secretary Michael Gove has warned that developers must agree to a £4 billion plan to fix dangerous cladding on low-rise flats by early March, or risk new laws forcing them to act.

Gove threatened he would "take all steps necessary" to fix the "broken system" in a letter to the industry ahead of detailing the plans on Monday.

Potential action also includes restricting access to government funding and future procurements, the use of planning powers, and pursuing firms through the courts.

The proposals to alleviate the scandal that has trapped leaseholders in unsafe and unsellable homes come more than four years after the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, in which 72 people were killed.

Leaseholders in buildings between 11m and 18m tall will no longer have to take out loans to cover the costs of remediation work despite no new money coming from the Treasury.

Instead, Mr Gove told developers to agree to start contributing this year to cover the “full outstanding cost”, which he estimates to be £4 billion.

72 people were killed in a fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017 Credit: PA

The Housing Secretary is expected to meet with cladding campaigners on Monday morning before detailing the plan in the Commons.

In the letter to the residential property developer industry being sent on Monday, Mr Gove set a deadline of “early March” to publicly accept his ultimatum and provide a “fully-funded plan of action”.

“Our home should be a source of security and pride. For too many of the people living in properties your industry has built in recent years, their home has become a source of misery. This must change,” he wrote.

Mr Gove said he is sure they are also committed to fixing the “broken system” but warned he is “prepared to take all steps necessary to make this happen”, including “the imposition of a solution in law if needs be”.

The commitments also include that they must “fund and undertake” all works on buildings over 18m which they played a role in developing.

They were also ordered to provide comprehensive information on all buildings taller than 11m that have fire-safety defects and they helped construct in the last 30 years.

The fire at Grenfell Tower killed 71 people. Credit: PA

Campaigners tentatively welcomed the plans as they trickled out over the weekend, but developers said they should not be the only ones responsible for the costs.

A spokesman for the End Our Cladding Scandal said they were “cautiously optimistic” over the plans but noted 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.

Shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy said “promises are no substitute for a plan” as she urged the Government to go further to protect leaseholders from the costs.

“We must have legally binding protection for leaseholders in law to defend them from the costs of these appalling failures, a fixed deadline which will bring an end to this nightmare and a Secretary of State who is able to marshal the resources and political will to take on the might of big money interests – and win,” the Labour MP said.