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Innocent Builders Again Targeted by the Government

On Sunday 29 January 2023, Michael Gove told journalist Laura Kuenssberg that the Government and previous governments were at fault for the cladding crisis. On Monday, he has shifted the blame to developers and told them to ‘sign the cladding pledge or find a new line of work’.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said: “Michael Gove’s announcement is a case of ‘Hobson’s choice’, as it tells innocent builders to sign a contract with the Government, or they can stop them operating. It’s policy by optics, not serious governance.

The fair and proportionate solution is simple, adopt a polluter pays principle which says, if you’ve done wrong, you will pay to fix your mistake. Perhaps, as Gove admitted that he and his predecessors were at fault, the Government aren’t overly keen on polluter pays.”

The Government have already announced the Residential Property Developer Tax, levying 4% on any developer with profits of more than £25million. And another is currently being consulted on, which targets the entire industry. Yet the public sector, inspectors, architects, designers, politicians, material manufacturers and everyone else in the sector have not faced any challenge.

Worse still, leaseholders remain at wits end because instead of the Government remediating buildings, it is going down a route of policy by optics.

Beresford continued: “The Government appears to be in some listening mode, as they are considering exemptions the NFB put forward on the broader cladding tax; however, it needs to listen a little harder because it is harming its relationship with industry, not helping leaseholders and jeopardising not only the supply of housing but the supply chain to deliver them. Their strategy is unfair, disproportionate, and murky.”

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