Gove names and shames builders who have not signed post-Grenfell safety contract

Michael Gove has named 11 companies he said have not yet agreed to the remediation contract for fixing building safety issues.

The Communities Secretary called out the housebuilding companies after giving them until March 13 to sign up to the agreement aimed at addressing cladding issues following the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire.

Mr Gove confirmed 39 developers had signed the contract, which will see them commit £2 billion to fund repairs to high-rise buildings which have unsafe cladding or other fire safety defects.

In the Commons, the Communities Secretary set out what the impact would be for those who had not signed up to the agreement.

He said: “While the overwhelming majority of major developers have signed, some regrettably have not. Parliament has made clear what this means, and so have I.

“Those companies will be out of the housebuilding business in England entirely unless and until they change their course. Next week I will publish key features of our new responsible actors scheme.

“A means of ensuring that only those committed to building safety will be allowed to build in the future. Those developers that we’ve invited to sign the remediation contract who have not agreed to live up to their responsibilities will not be eligible to join the responsible actors scheme.

“They will not be able to commence new developments in England or receive building control approval for work that is already under way.”

“The companies invited to sign the remediation contract who have not yet lived up to their responsibilities are: Abbey Developments, Avant, Ballymore, Dandara, Emerson Group (Jones Homes), Galliard Homes, Inland Homes, Lendlease, London Square, Rydon Homes and Telford Homes.”

He added: “Now, while my officials remain in discussions with several who are making progress towards signing, I am concerned that some companies do not appreciate the grave nature of the responsibility that they bear.

“I hope that the directors of these firms will now exercise the same level of responsibility as the leaders of the building industry.

“The reluctance so far of some companies to sign up only underlines the need for the responsible actors scheme. It will ensure that there are consequences for developers that wish to be at the moment neither answerable nor accountable.”

He said it was a “significant intervention in the market” but added: “The magnitude of the crisis that we face and the depth of the suffering for all those affected has clearly justified a radical approach”.

Mr Gove added: “Thirty-nine developers have signed the contract… By signing the contract, these developers have committed to fixing at least 1,100 buildings. They will invest more than £2 billion in that work.”

Convention of the North
Lisa Nandy, Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (James Speakman/AP)

Shadow communities Lisa Nandy welcomed the Government’s action, telling MPs: “We want to see every developer sign the remediation contract and urgently move to fix the unsafe buildings and free leaseholders who have been trapped for too long.”

But she added: “The contract he says will cover over 1,000 buildings but, given his own department’s estimate is that there are between 6,000 and 9,000 unsafe 11-18 metre buildings alone, it clearly only deals with a fraction of the problem.

“How does he plan to assist leaseholders in buildings with defects outside of the scope of the contract to get them remediated?”

Mr Gove replied: “It is the case with buildings under 11 meters there are some fire safety issues but we have to look at these on a case-by-case basis.

“Some of them will be life critical, some of them won’t be, but our cladding safety scheme which is addressed specifically at mid-rise buildings, those between 11 and 18 meters should I hope deal with the… delay in dealing with fire safety issues for this crucial section of our housing sector.”

Elsewhere in the debate, Labour chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee Clive Betts raised concerns that social housing providers may have to cut back on housebuilding if they are not given more funding to fix cladding issues.

He told the Commons: “The National Housing Federation, Kate Henderson, said to the committee on Monday the cost of remediation of these matters for social housing providers is going to be £6 billion.

“They have only had a tiny bit of money under ACM (aluminium composite material) cladding. Is the Secretary of State going to look at that again because otherwise there is going to be cutbacks to the housebuilding programme they all want to engage in.”

The Communities Secretary replied: “I have been in conversations with the Chancellor of the Exchequer about what more we can do in order to support the social housing sector.

“How richly those conversations bear fruit we will have to see.”