Free cladding inspections of high-rise buildings to begin

The Scottish Government will start the programme within the next few months, the housing minister has announced.

Free cladding inspections of high-rise buildings to begin STV News

The Scottish Government will offer free cladding inspections of high-rise buildings, the housing minister has announced.

The ministerial working group on mortgage lending and cladding was set up in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, when flat owners were worried about the value of their properties due to external cladding.

It published its final report on Friday and housing minister Kevin Stewart said the Scottish Government will accept all of its recommendations.

These include putting in place a system of inspections which will look at entire buildings as opposed to single properties – in the same way as the current system which is usually paid for by homeowners.

Mr Stewart said: “This is an important milestone for people who are living in buildings with cladding. I have heard personally from homeowners who have had to change their life plans or are living with real concern about safety – no-one wants that uncertainty and anxiety to continue.

“As part of this proposal, agreed unanimously by representatives of homeowners, surveyors, property managers, lenders and developers in our ministerial working group, we will start assessments in June with remediation funding confirmed as soon as possible afterwards, possibly as early as August.

“By funding the single building assessments, we will have a clear picture of the scale of the issue. This will enable us to provide support for the remediation work required – I do not want people left facing unfair remediation costs.”

The move will pave the way for the Scottish Government to financially support the remedial work needed on buildings.

More than £97m has been given to Scotland through the Barnett formula to deal with the issue, and Mr Stewart has pledged “every penny” will be spent on the scheme – though he admitted it may still not be enough.

He has called for clarity from the UK Government over any further consequentials to be given to the Scottish Government.

“We are committing every penny of the £97.1m consequentials we have received so far towards this ambitious programme of work,” Mr Stewart said.

“We cannot guarantee that there will be enough public funds to support all the work that is needed, and other parties such as developers must continue to play their part where construction is not as it should have been.

“We have not yet been given clarity about how much or when we will receive the further funding promised from the UK Government and we continue to urgently press for this.

“When we do receive this, we will commit to ensuring it goes towards this major programme of work.”

Nic Mayall, President of the Property Managers’ Association Scotland, said: “We welcome the announcement by Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning. This will help bring an end to the crisis which has caused such turmoil and anxiety for so many flatowners throughout Scotland.

“We believe this announcement gives our members the opportunity to assist homeowners impacted by this situation with a potential solution, while further work is carried out on a resolution to long-term legislative issues. This will go a long way to alleviating the safety concerns of property owners and bring clarity for lenders so they can move matters forward with affected homeowners.

“Going forward, PMAS will continue to recommend through the Ministerial Working Group on Mortgage Lending and Cladding that any future money which the Scottish Government receives through consequentials from funds set aside by the UK Government are applied specifically for external wall systems, to enable this nightmare to be resolved once and for all.”

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