Scottish solicitors body calls for nationwide high-rise cladding assessment

Scottish solicitors body calls for nationwide high-rise cladding assessment

The UK Government’s announcement of making further funding available for removing dangerous cladding on high-rise buildings provides an opportunity for a comprehensive assessment to establish the nature and extent of the problem north of the border, according to the Law Society of Scotland.

Last week UK housing secretary Robert Jenrick agreed to pay £3.5 billion to remove cladding from hundreds of thousands of unsafe high-rise flats in England.

Welcoming the funding, the professional body for Scottish solicitors called for a Scotland-wide assessment of cladding on high-rise buildings to be carried out by the Scottish Government.

John Sinclair, convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s property law committee, said: “Without a system in place to generate comprehensive, co-ordinated surveys of potentially affected buildings, we have no real idea as to how big an issue it actually is and no meaningful and fair remediation scheme can be costed or put in place.

“Under the Barnett Formula further funding will flow to the Scottish Government and we would urge Scottish Ministers to use some of those funds for surveys of Scotland’s high-rise buildings to move this complex and difficult issue forward.

“The current situation has left many flat owners very concerned about the safety of their buildings and a number have been unable to sell their properties. Affected owners have been in this situation for long enough and deserve to see progress.”

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said last week that the Scottish Government will assess overall need before setting out its solution.

Mr Stewart told Scottish Housing News: “We look forward to detail from the UK Government on consequentials for Scotland. Time after time we hear that the commitment from the UK Government, although welcome, will not be sufficient to help those that need it and a piecemeal approach to a solution is not serving anyone well.

“I am very concerned by the difficulties being faced by people living in buildings with external wall cladding, who have concerns about safety, or who are unable to buy, sell or remortgage their homes and I understand the anxiety that this is causing.

“The Scottish Government has been clear that we need to take a different approach to the first-come, first-served approach in England - to assess overall need and ensure that the limited funding we have is used to greatest effect.

“We know that others also have a part to play. It is important that developers take their responsibility for cladding problems seriously, and some developers in Scotland are stepping up to support homeowners. We have a duty to look after public money and to consider the most appropriate support we can offer in Scotland.

“I will not take an approach that sees public money running out before we can help those that need it most. While I, of course, understand that if you are a resident in a flat with cladding that this will be small consolation, it is my duty to act in the public interest, secure value for money and that every penny of funding for remediation in Scotland reaches those that need it most.

“We have not and will not repeat the mistakes made elsewhere of allocating funding before it is clear where and what the overall need is. We are taking a more logical approach of establishing the scale of the issue first. Experience from those buildings where remediation is underway shows that this needs a long-term and sustainable plan.”

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