A Labour MP today said that new measures announced by the Government to address the cladding crisis are not enough to solve the major challenges facing leaseholders in London.
Putney MP Fleur Anderson spoke to SWL about the £30 million Waking Watch Fund, and the six-month extension to the deadline for applications for the Building Safety Fund, announced yesterday by the Government.
Anderson has been campaigning for an extension to the deadline for applications for the £1bn Building Safety Fund, which provides for remediation of residential buildings with unsafe cladding systems.
She said: “Both of these measures are really the least the Government can do.
“They’re not going to solve the enormous cladding crisis that an increasing number of local people are facing and there is so much more that needs to be done.
“The fact is, if the Government got on faster with the cladding fund there wouldn’t be a need for this Waking Watch Fund.
“There wouldn’t be local residents in fear for their lives, lying awake in bed wondering if they are in a dangerous building.”
What is Waking Watch?
Waking Watch is a system whereby wardens patrol a building to look out for signs of a fire, and oversee the evacuation process if a fire starts.
The purpose behind the new fund is to ease the burden on leaseholders who are having to pay for these systems, by paying for the installation of fire alarm systems in high-rise buildings with Grenfell-style ACM cladding.
Anderson told us about one building in Putney – Riverside Quarter – where leaseholders are paying for their waking watch system themselves.
She said: “Riverside Quarter’s management company was paying for their waking watch up until January.
“Then they decided they had paid enough, and passed all the costs onto the leaseholders, who are now having to pay every month for this system which they don’t think is even that effective as the cladding has not been redone in some of the buildings.”
Although the Waking Watch Fund is expected to support thousands of residents in high-rise buildings, Anderson wonders if the measures are too little, too late.
She added: “It’s been very ill thought through.
“They haven’t listened to the experiences of leaseholders, and they could have found this out much earlier on.
“Now leaseholders are being left with huge bills for thousands of pounds.”
Response from Cladding Action Groups
Echoing Anderson’s views, cladding campaigners took to Twitter following the Government’s announcement to express their frustration at what many believe are overdue measures.
One leaseholder at Northpoint Bromley, a high-rise building with Grenfell-style ACM cladding, tweeted that she had paid £500,000 in Waking Watch, none of which she will get refunded.
Campaign group End Our Cladding Scandal also took to Twitter to respond to the Waking Watch Fund yesterday.
It said: “The fact remains that until the underlying crisis of building safety is addressed by the Government, these cladding measures remain sticker plaster solutions to the devastating injuries this issue is inflicting on innocent leaseholders and the wider UK housing market.”
You can read more about leaseholders concerned about the cost of cladding here.