The UK government has opened the full version of its cladding safety scheme, previously called the Medium-Rise Scheme and now known as the Cladding Safety Scheme (CSS). The funding, which will cover reasonable costs associated with removing unsafe cladding from residential buildings, is being made available through both the PS5.1 billion allocated to the scheme and through the Building Safety Levy on new construction. The scheme is expected to qualify thousands more mid-rise buildings across England, enabling them to receive remediation works at no cost to their residents.
The scheme will cover the cost of the removal or replacement of external cladding, and any fire safety remediation works which are required, on blocks of flats up to 18m in height in London and 11-18m outside of the capital. It will also provide support to the responsible entity – a freeholder, head leasehold owner, Right to Manage company, or resident management company run by residents – who are the legal entity responsible for the external repair and maintenance of their block. The responsible www.csscladding.co.uk entity will need to engage a number of construction professionals to help them plan, tender for, and cost the work to be carried out. The scheme will have specific provisions which must be met to ensure that the consultants engaged are fully qualified and have the necessary experience of working in this type of project.
In order to be eligible for CSS funding, a building owner must apply through the Homes England CSS application portal. This is likely to be the freeholder, local authority, head leasehold owner, Right to Manage or resident management company, or social housing provider. The responsible entity will then need to instruct a Fire Risk Appraisal of External Walls (FRAEW) to be undertaken by an approved contractor and in accordance with PAS 9980:2022.
As well as the cost of recladding, any works which are required to mitigate life-safety fire risks must also be funded. These can include things such as the installation of a second staircase, sprinkler systems, and fire-rated windows. The End Our Cladding Scandal campaign group has urged the government to also mandate that all new residential buildings over 18m in England have second staircases, and to introduce mandatory fire safety measures like a ban on open plan living spaces and the installation of cavity barriers.
For many people, the prospect of having to pay for costly cladding repairs is devastating. This is especially true for those who have been forced to leave their homes because of the fire risk. In a bid to support these people, the RICS has published a guide to the Building Safety Act 2022, which aims to help them understand their rights and options. It has also produced a podcast, which you can listen to here or on Apple or Spotify, and a dedicated Building Safety hub. This article was written by Patrick O’Neill, RICS director of technical content.