April 13 (Reuters) - The UK government said on Wednesday it
had agreed to a 5 billion pound ($6.50 billion) deal with
housebuilders to eradicate flammable cladding on buildings over
11 meters high.
Removing the material became critical after the 2017
Grenfell Tower tragedy, when more than 70 people died in a fire
in a high-rise block in London, triggering an inquiry into
UK Housing Secretary Michael Gove has used a
carrot-and-stick approach to tackle the issue, forcing
housebuilders including top London-listed firms to sign up for
the safety pledge, mainly on cladding repair works.
Under the new agreement, over 35 developers have committed a
minimum of 2 billion pounds to fix their own buildings built in
the last 30 years, while the industry will also pay an estimated
3 billion pounds over the next 10 years through an expansion to
the Building Safety Levy.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
said there was little time left for any company that had not
signed up. Those which refused would face consequences, it said.
Britain in January ordered housebuilders to pay around $5.4
billion to help remove cladding from buildings after an outcry
over occupants of flats in high-rise buildings bearing the brunt
of the costs.
Since then, the Home Builders Federation, companies and
other stakeholders have been in talks with government on paying
for the cost of removing cladding on buildings between 11 and 18
Buildings over 18 metres high are already covered by a 3
billion pound grant from the government and 2 billion pounds
from a surcharge on listed housebuilders, which started this
($1 = 0.7696 pounds)
(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by
Paul Sandle and Arun Koyyur)