Addressing the UK’s Cladding Crisis – 2023 update


By Sean Starling and Oliver Williams

June 2023

In February 2021, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government announced that the Building Safety Fund (BSF) would receive a further £3.5bn to the existing £1.6bn allocation. While this was a positive move to address the UK’s Cladding Crisis, some critics cited this as being too little too late and falling well short of the estimated £15bn required to replace combustible cladding. Equals facade remediation team assesses some of the issues and practical solutions for the successful delivery of façade remediation projects.


The challenge

The Grenfell tragedy exposed fundamental fire and life safety issues for residential developments clad in combustible materials. The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities called for repairing ‘all serious fire safety defects’ in high-risk residential buildings at up to £15bn, identifying some 2,000 residential buildings still clad in combustible cladding.

From the outset the requirements were to ‘ensure all buildings of any height’ with aluminium composite material (ACM) be fully remediated of all fire safety defects by December 2021 and with all other high-risk buildings above 18m remediated by June 2022. This presented a significant but vital challenge for our industry to overcome.


The Building Safety fund

The impact to homeowners in high-risk buildings has been great, with many leaseholders bearing the financial burden of extensive preventative measures such as fire alarms and waking watches, along with soaring insurance costs. This has resulted in many facing bills in the tens of thousands, unable to sell or lease their properties and some even suffering bankruptcy.

The BSF was established to support tenants, residents and leaseholders with financial assistance and project delivery expertise to remediate combustible cladding where building owners are unable to.


Introduction of PAS 9980

Following on-going remediation under the BSF guidance, in 2021 the Fire Safety Act introduced the Fire Risk Appraisal of External Wall (FRAEW) construction under the PAS 9980 guidance to take a more holistic, risk based approach to building fire safety. This also reduced the funding parameters, relieving the financial burden on leaseholders and provided two routes to building remediation, with the PAS 9980 running concurrently with the EWS1 form under the BSF guidance.

With the new guidance in place, consultants and contractors who have worked on projects under the BSF guidance are generally well placed to assist on projects under the PAS 9980 guidance. As the application process is similar there is a benefit to using consultants who have an existing understanding of the funding process.


The Developer Pledge

In April 2022, the government confirmed it had reached a wide-ranging agreement with a number of Housing Developers, which is estimated to have contributed £2 billion to address the fire safety of buildings over 11m.


Building Safety Act & notifiable buildings

The new legislation requires all parties involved to take greater responsibility when designing, constructing and refurbishing buildings. The Building Safety Act now creates new statutory duty holders, who are responsible for managing fire safety risks and ensuring compliance with Building Regulations. The 1st October 2023 deadline to register all higher risk buildings with the regulator is approaching and the UK Government has released a more detailed list of the Key Building Information that will be required to be provided.



Lessons learnt

Equals has delivered, (and continue to deliver) a number of remediation projects under both the BSF and PAS frameworks. From our experience and lessons learned we can outline several key factors that will drive better outcomes.

Understanding the process

With two possible remediation application routes, understanding the process and the route best suited are crucial. Strategically designing the project execution and procurement process to meet these needs and deliver the required outcome is essential.


Every project is unique and differing levels of intervention or temporary works are required making comparative benchmarking difficult. Quantity surveyors may need to resort to first principles to estimate and validate the cost of the works.


Preliminary intrusive investigations can only provide a small picture of the likely level of remediation. Investment in surveys undertaken by fire and cladding experts can provide valuable information to understand the full extent of the remediation measures required.

Leaseholder engagement

Providing frequent communication and reassurance to leaseholders and residents is essential. Providing them with regular updates and understanding their needs will build their confidence and acceptance of the delivery team. They are personally vested and require consultation.

Time is critical!

Façade remediation projects need to be delivered rapidly to ensure the safety of the residents. Consequently, response, evaluation and execution activities need to be driven at a pace faster than is normal for conventional projects.


The volume of work required will compound an industry already suffering from skills shortages. Securing skilled and experienced contractors, consultants and materials will continue to prove challenging. Developing a capable and trusted supply chain is vital.

Risk management

A risk management plan is important to ensure that the key project risks are identified, with management plans devised. Common key risks include fire during construction, planning approval, security, weather, material demand, labour supply, among many others.


With insurers seeking to limit exposure, obtaining the required levels of PI insurance and certification can be problematic. This should be reviewed early in the procurement process to ensure that participants have the capacity to perform their duties.


Understanding the processes and creating a project execution plan to suit the unique nature of these projects is key to success.


At Equals we know and understand the requirements of the various Fund’s and the DLUHC, having already implemented and delivered schemes to these processes. We can lead decisively to deliver the best possible outcome for this challenging and necessary work.