Northern Ireland’s lagging behind rest of the UK when it comes to cladding

By James McCallan, Co-Founder and Director of Anamore

Northern Ireland (NI), like the rest of UK, has been affected by the cladding crisis with buildings across the region potentially having been clad in highly combustible materials or have flammable insulation.

Although significant progress has been made in NI, the pace of building remediation has been slower there than on the mainland and only recently have we seen Government intervention similar to what can be accessed elsewhere.

While the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and Homes England have now created a Cladding Safety Scheme for NI with the support of the NI Department for Communities, external challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by a devolved administration at Stormont, meant there were delays and then an uncertainty over who would administer the scheme; the outcome of which meant that NI couldn’t grant the funding to homeowners as quickly as it should have.

Finally launched in August 2023 the Cladding Safety Scheme provides a £33m Cladding Safety Fund for the use of remediation of unsafe cladding on residential buildings across the region. As part of the fund there is a devoted funding pot for 11 buildings, previously earmarked as unsafe with non-ACM (aluminium composite) cladding panels and one with ACM cladding panels.

It is vital any new Executive in NI reassures aspiring homeowners that support is available, while reducing the burden on homeowners already affected by the cladding crisis. Currently in NI there are many people who are stuck in a catch-22 situation neither able to sell their property, remortgage or have the financial means to contribute to fixing the problem which will need to be addressed.

The fund is currently being distributed through a stringent application system administered by Homes England. However, legislation is required in the Northern Ireland Assembly to fully implement necessary changes in building regulations set out by the Building Safety Act 2022.

Legislation specific to NI is an ideal opportunity for this region to tackle the long-standing issue of combustible building materials. Moving forward it is important that government, residents and specialists like us work together to ensure that Northern Ireland addresses unsafe building materials. The £33m fund is one step towards ensuring that this is the case – the next devolved government must continue this work through legislative change.


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