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St Francis Court flat owners could get government help to pay for cladding removal

PUBLISHED: 09:09 09 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:49 09 May 2019

St Francis Tower's cladding was removed last year. Photo: Rachel Edge

St Francis Tower's cladding was removed last year. Photo: Rachel Edge

Rachel Edge

There was fresh hope for owners of flats in St Francis Tower in Ipswich today after the government announced it was setting up a £200m fund to remove potentially dangerous cladding from tower blocks.

Owners of the Ipswich flats had been warned they faced bills of £21,000 each to remove the cladding in the wake of the fire in Grenfell Tower in west London two years ago.

However the Department of Housing and Local Government today announced that the money would be made available to remove aluminium composite material cladding from around 170 privately owned high-rise buildings across the UK.

It comes after almost two years of inaction from some building owners, some of whom tried to make leaseholders foot the bill.

At St Francis Tower the cladding is being removed, but the owners are facing bills for the work.

Campaigners welcomed the news, with Grenfell United, a group of survivors and the bereaved, saying it offered hope to people feeling at risk at home.

Building owners will have three months to claim the funds, with one condition being that they take "reasonable steps" to recover the costs from those responsible for the cladding's presence.

Prime minister Theresa May said: "It is of paramount importance that everybody is able to feel and be safe in their homes.

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"That's why we asked building owners in the private sector to take action and make sure appropriate safety measures were in place.

"And we've seen a number of private building owners doing the right thing and taking responsibility, but unfortunately too many are continuing to pass on the costs of removal and replacement to leaseholders.

"Today I can confirm we will now be fully funding the replacement of cladding on high-rise private residential buildings so residents can feel confident they are secure in their homes."

Grenfell United said: "Today's announcement offers hope to people in dangerous blocks that the nightmare they have been living for nearly two years is almost over.

"This result is a testament to residents themselves, in social and private blocks, who refused to be ignored. The truth is we should never have had to fight for it.

"It is not a quick fix so we ask the Government to also consider what financial support can be put in place while residents continue with night watches and wait for remediation works to start."

The campaign to see the material stripped from all residential blocks has won support from celebrities including Adele and Stormzy.

Latest government figures show that 166 private buildings out of 176 identified with the cladding after the fire in June 2017 have yet to start removing the material.

Building owners will be able to register for the fund by early July.

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