After much delay, the Government’s scheme to remove dangerous cladding from buildings that have been deemed unsafe has finally opened in full. Formerly known as the Medium-Rise Scheme (MRS), it has now been re-branded as the Cladding Safety Scheme (CSS) and is being run by the delivery agency Homes England.
The PS5.1 billion set aside by the Government to fund this work, along with revenue from the Building Safety Levy on new construction, will now pay for the costs of removing unsafe cladding in thousands more mid-rise buildings across England. This will be done at no cost to leaseholders in the buildings, as the government will compensate them via a remediation fund.
In order to qualify for CSS CSS cladding funding, a Responsible Entity will need to apply through the Homes England website. This could be the freeholder, head leaseholder, resident management company, Right to Manage company, or even a social housing provider depending on the circumstances. The Responsible Entity must be able to prove that they are legally responsible for the external repair of the building.
Once the Responsible Entity has submitted an initial application, they will then be provided with details to instruct a Fire Risk Appraisal of External Wall construction (FRAEW) to be undertaken in line with PAS 9980:2022. This must be carried out by one of the 37 firms on the Homes England panel of fire risk assessors and will need to be completed before the CSS can start paying for works.
The FRAEW will need to identify the life safety risks associated with the cladding or the external wall system, as well as a cost estimate for works necessary to mitigate those life safety risks. This will be in addition to any other recommended works that are necessary to address other issues identified by the FRAEW, such as improving EWS ratings or general maintenance works. Works that are designed to address the non-life safety fire risks of a building, such as installing sprinkler systems, will not be funded under the CSS. Nor will it cover the cost of interim measures such as a waking watch.
It will also not fund works to comply with the building regulations, improve EWS ratings or any other works that are not required to mitigate the fire safety risks caused by a cladding system. The intention is to help those landlords and managing agents who cannot afford the necessary works themselves or feel that they are not their responsibility to carry out.
We have seen some landlords try to avoid the costs by passing on the costs to their tenants, but we believe that this will not be sustainable in the long term. We have seen tenants struggle with these costs and have also heard of tenants who have had to move out as they were not able to afford the work. We have therefore urged the Government to reconsider this approach and open the CSS to all landlords. This would ensure that the majority of properties will be remediated and protects those who are not qualified for the fund from being hit with financially ruinous bills.