British Woodworking Federation chief calls for funding for vital building safety works following spring statement

Chief executive of the British Woodworking Federation Iain McIlwee is calling on the Government to make funds available for vital building safety works, following the Chancellor’s spring statement.

Philip Hammond said the country had reached a turning point with upgraded projections for growth and a predicted fall in inflation.

McIlwee is urging for provisions to be made to address the growing need for funds for vital building safety works.

“While it’s encouraging to hear the Chancellor commit to investment for raising housing supply in today’s spring statement, the question should be asked why an allocation of this budget is not being diverted to fund the vital safety works that are needed on existing buildings? Fire safety concerns have been building up for a number of years, either through ineffective maintenance or fundamental design, specification and installation problems,” said McIlwee.

“Grenfell has shone a spotlight on this, yet still financial and political barriers are preventing essential works from taking place and leaving vulnerable people sleeping in buildings that are potentially unsafe. As the collateral costs of Grenfell become more apparent and reports that only three council-owned high rises out of the 160 that failed the government’s fire safety tests have yet been reclad it is imperative that we see the Treasury making an allocation for such potentially life-critical work.”

He is suggesting that a Building Safety Fund similar to the Pension Protection Fund, is established to allow housing associations and local authorities to do what needs to be done and to apply for funding to cover a percentage of the likely costs. The Building Safety Fund could also manage litigation should it be deemed a third-party is liable.

“The fund would help to speed up work on existing buildings and would centralise legal matters through controlled precedence,” explained McIlwee.

“We would recommend looking at Insurance Premium Tax as a way to levy the fund. The much-needed corrective works in social housing should be high on the government’s priority list and we urge the Chancellor to consider this option when reviewing the forthcoming budget.”

Photo: Raul Mee (EU2017EE) Creative Commons

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