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New support scheme launched to help those affected by fire safety issues

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A new support scheme for those facing significant financial hardship as a result of fire safety issues will launch today.

Welsh Government Climate Change Minister Julie James confirmed the Leaseholder Support Scheme would open at 10am on Monday, June 27.

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The new scheme will provide tailored, independent advice to leaseholders in affected homes.

It is currently targeted at leaseholders who are owner occupiers and those who have become displaced residents, but the Minister confirmed applications would be monitored and eligibility kept under review to ensure ‘those who need support most have access to the scheme’.

The Minister said: “Today, we are launching the Leaseholder Support Scheme which will help those who need support the most.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the external partners and sector experts who have assisted us in developing this scheme at pace.

“Their support and hard work have been critical to establishing the right qualifying criteria and support processes.”

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All leaseholders eligible for this scheme will now receive advice from an Independent Financial Adviser, with the costs fully covered by the Welsh Government.

The advice will support them in making the right choice for them and, if the sale of their property is the right route, the Welsh Government will enable them to sell their property at a fair market value.

The Minister continued: “Addressing fire safety defects in medium and high-rise buildings must go beyond cladding to make these buildings as safe as they can be.

“This has been our premise from the outset and, although it makes identifying, addressing and resolving issues significantly more complex, it is the right approach.

“There are no quick or easy fixes, but we cannot compromise on achieving the right, sustainable solutions.

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“Anything less leaves the door open to the risk of further issues arising and it is important to me that, once these issues are resolved, they remain resolved.

“We must do this properly, to get it right now and for the future.”

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS has been critical of the Welsh Government response to the cladding crisis.

Ms Dodds said: “This announcement will help a very small number of people and continues to let property developers off the hook. Homeowners must see urgent action to make their buildings safe and the Welsh Government is still failing to do that.

“We have been campaigning on this issue for so long now and unfortunately it has become quite clear that there has been a lack of active engagement and communication with homeowners by Welsh Labour that has exacerbated the frustration that people feel with the situation.

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“We cannot continue to have people living in unsafe buildings across Wales going to bed every night fearing for their safety. The longer this continues the greater the bills that sit on people’s kitchen tables are, bills the Welsh Government has stated cannot be recouped by homeowners.

“Labour need to stop shielding property developers and focus on delivering the urgent remediation work needed to make their buildings safe.”

Jane Dodds addresses a meeting of residents about cladding concerns in Swansea

The Welsh Conservatives meanwhile claim that only two weeks ago, the First Minister was unable to answer how much money has specifically been set aside to tackle dangerous cladding in Wales.

It said that data released under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that Labour’s Minister for Housing only met housing developers three times in 2021 for a grand total of 2 and a half hours.

Commenting, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Housing, Janet Finch-Saunders MS said: “For years, people in Wales have been living in fear as a result of dangerous cladding with very little help coming from the Labour Government. People living in these flats don’t need advice, they need access to cash.

“While the UK Conservative Government has been leading the way in dealing with dangerous cladding, Labour in Wales has been too slow in rolling out funding.

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“It is vital that financial support is made available so people are not forced to sell their flats to the Minister and can finally live in their homes without fear.

“Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay need to treat this issue with the severity it deserves and ensure people living in dangerous flats have access to cash quickly.”

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