Michael Gove names and shames developers who have not signed post-Grenfell safety contract
Flat owners say more needs to be done to "save them from ruin" after developers who have not yet agreed to fix post-Grenfell safety defects were named and shamed in the Commons.
Housing Secretary Michael Gove called out 11 housebuilding companies who missed a March 13 deadline to sign up to an agreement aimed at addressing cladding issues following the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy.
Mr Gove confirmed 39 developers had signed the contract, which will see them commit £2bn to fund repairs to high-rise buildings, but said "some regrettably have not".
He said they had a week to do so or face being banned from building new homes in England.
"Those companies will be out of the housebuilding business in England entirely unless and until they change their course," he told MPs.
Mr Gove said next week he will publish the key features of a new responsible actors scheme which will ensure "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," he said.
"They will not be able to commence new developments in England or receive building control approval for work that is already under way."
He said 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.
Mr Gove said blocking them from new developments 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."
Labour's Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy backed the announcement but said it only covered a "fraction of the problem".
"We want to see every developer sign the remediation contract and urgently move to fix the unsafe buildings and free leaseholders who've been trapped for too long," she said.
Ms Nandy said the government's contract only covered 1,100 buildings, when Mr Gove's own department had said there are "between 6,000 and 9,000 unsafe 11-18m buildings alone".
She also asked the secretary of state how he planned to help leaseholders in buildings with defects outside of the scope of the contract, such as those under 11m.
Mr Gove replied: "It is the case with buildings under 11m 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."
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'Minor step forward'
Leaseholders have endured years of waiting for their homes to be remediated after the Grenfell fire exposed wide-spread safety issues across the sector.
Many have been unable to sell their homes and hit with sky-high service charges and insurance premiums as a result of the defects.
The End Our Cladding Scandal campaign group said the "naming and shaming of those who have still failed to take responsibility is appreciated and long overdue".
But they called on the government to go further and launch a redress scheme similar to that launched by the Irish government.
In a statement they said: "We ask Mr Gove to ensure that buildings where a developer has not signed the contract are made safe without further delay by the government stepping in, on the same terms as the developer contract, with action subsequently being taken to recover costs from those developers.
"Signs of progress are welcome, but this is only a minor step forward for the small fraction of leaseholders who have a developer who has signed the contract. They now face battles ahead to ensure all required life-critical fire safety work is actually completed."
Campaigners said the mid-rise scheme still remains closed for thousands of unsafe buildings but Mr Gove "knows that all leaseholders are blameless and that he must do more to save their futures from ruin".
"On the 69-month anniversary of the tragic events at Grenfell, the suffering and limbo still faced by so many residents in unsafe buildings across the country must be squarely in Mr Gove's mind," the statement continued.
"Today's update from Mr Gove may move us one more step closer to at last resolving this issue - but there are still many more steps to take before we are able to move on with our lives. We will continue our work with Mr Gove and his team at the Department to finally end this scandal."