I spoke directly with Michael Gove in the Commons on Monday to push the interests of impacted leaseholders in Eastbourne.
I am pleased the new secretary of state recognises that leaseholders should not be responsible for wider fire safety such as missing fire breaks or inappropriate materials used on balconies for example. In some cases, this remedial work can be as costly as cladding removal – the issue that has always dominated the debate and the headlines.
In Eastbourne the extension of the limitation period to 30 years is good news. The town has developments that missed the previous limitation period. This means developers or freeholders in many more cases will have to address issues of building safety, which I know will be a big relief for many leaseholders.
I have consistently made the case that developers need to pick up more of the bill for these issues that are absolutely no fault of flat leaseholders, who have often been trapped in unsaleable homes and stressed by what has happened or taxpayers for that matter.
However, there remains an issue of financing this remediation of historical fire safety defects. Questions remain over whether the Government is prepared to pay up front to allow works to progress. Or whether it will pay costs if developers cannot fund it.
Some Eastbourne leaseholders have already paid out thousands on this and will they be reimbursed in some way?
I would also like to have seen VAT being suspended for any remedial work. I signed an amendment to the Building Safety Bill that would save over £1bn of fire safety remediation in VAT.
I have today asked for a formal meeting with the secretary of state to put these questions and concerns to him.
This announcement is a big step forward but I would like to be clear about how it will be implemented in practice, and how exactly it will help people in Eastbourne.