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Important Announcement on Building Safety

Published on 27/05/2022

Important Announcement on Building Safety – Cladding Remediation Programme

Shona Robinson MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government) recently updated the Scottish Parliament on the work currently being undertaken to identify and remediate unsafe cladding, specifically progress with the Single Building Assessment (SBA) pilot scheme which was introduced in 2021.
She announced that the Scottish Government aim to overcome the apparent breakdown in shared knowledge around building safety amongst the likes of developers, lenders, insurance providers, surveyors and fire engineers along with details on the steps that will be put in place to address this.
The existing SBA pilot scheme was created to conduct a comprehensive inspection of whole blocks of domestic residential buildings and considers fire safety and suitability for mortgage lending through a Government grant scheme. While this has been considered successful, the Scottish Government acknowledges that this approach comes at a high cost in terms of time and demands as it can be too complex. Through assessing the pilot scheme the Scottish Government has concluded that the existing method has to be changed as they scale up to a national programme.

  • Q. What does this now mean for groups of homeowners who share ownership of domestic residential property in Scotland and share concerns over building safety in particular cladding?
  • A. The SBA programme will be altered to allow a scaling up and expansion by using powers and procurement tools directly available to the Scottish Government and that this will be offered to homeowners directly.
  • Q. Who will take responsibility for controlling the programme?
  • A. The Scottish Government will take responsibility for procuring suitably qualified individuals to undertake assessments on behalf of collective homeowners. The aim is to take away the erroneous burden from homeowners and their property factors, allowing homeowners, through their factors, to focus on routine communal maintenance obligations.
  • Q. What happens if the homeowners in my property have already applied, but were not part of the initial pilot scheme?
  • A. Every property which has not yet submitted a full application under the previous scheme will be contacted by the Scottish Government and offered a directly procured SBA. There are around 80 properties that have previously submitted an expression of interest who will now be contacted.
  • Q. What is the purpose of the SBA and has this changed?
  • A. The SBA is designed to identify what needs to be mitigated or remediated on a building-by building basis and in line with the most current Buildings Standards. This includes more stringent requirements that effectively ban all combustible cladding on relevant buildings.
  • Q. What about buildings where no application has been made or previously accepted?
  • A. From 2023 Scottish Government has confirmed that they will invite all remaining privately-owned high-rise buildings into the survey programme. Scottish Government plans to contact homeowners directly.
  • Q. Will this resolve difficulties homeowners sometimes experience when buying and selling property in Scotland?
  • A. By the end of this Parliament, Scottish Government will introduce a Register of Safe Buildings. In addition to this step, they are already working with the key institutions that will need to have access to this information such as insurance providers, mortgage lenders, the fire service and, importantly, homeowners themselves. It will provide assurance to homeowners that their building is safe.
  • Q. How will this scheme continue to be funded?
  • A. Scottish Government has so far received £97.1 million funding from the UK Government and has stated that every penny of this, and any additional funding for this programme, will be invested in assessing buildings and making unsafe buildings safe. Scottish Government estimate that they may receive up to £300 million as a share of funds already committed by the UK Government on cladding and this will also be used.

Scottish Government has also announced more focused engagement with the housebuilding sector. Homes for Scotland, the housebuilding members’ body, has agreed to work in conjunction with Scottish Government to develop a Scottish Safer Building Accord. Scottish Government has reported that, through direct meetings with major housebuilders, a cooperative and collaborative approach to building an Accord to assist those affected by unsafe cladding will be created. Discussions will continue on this over the coming weeks. Scottish Government’s expectation is that developers linked to buildings with problematic cladding will fund remediation where this is identified. This will help ensure that public funds are only used where a developer cannot be identified.

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