While some developers have now committed to housing secretary Michael Gove’s contract to pay for unsafe building repairs, it’s critically only one piece of the puzzle. 

The government has placed all of its eggs in the basket of getting developers to stump up funding and, if that fails, to make building owners – who the government knows don’t have the funding to sort this crisis – liable

In doing so, though, it has almost entirely ignored one of the key polluters (and sources of funding) in this whole mess: companies that made the cladding. Despite being responsible for creating unsafe building materials that were a major factor in the Grenfell fire and leave thousands of other buildings significantly at risk, the government has placed no requirement on manufacturers of cladding to pay for building repairs.

The sum of public pressure the government has put on these companies is, frankly, laughable. In his first stint as housing secretary, Gove wrote to the Construction Products Association demanding suppliers contribute to remediating unsafe buildings, but government policy subsequently let the industry off the hook for its part in a £15bn crisis.

There is no doubt the culture and practices of cladding and insulation manufacturers have long been problematic, aided by decades of flawed government regulations that made the UK a magnet for cheap combustible cladding banned elsewhere in Europe.

The government must ensure the industry is held to account for fixing building safety issues. If not, as well as being a gross injustice to innocent parties asked to pay for repairs under the Building Safety Act 2022, it will also mean we’re unlikely to see the industry fully pay for its part in the crisis.

Whitehall officials may privately dismiss such plans, seeing manufacturers as too tough a target to assign liability. No one ever said making those responsible for creating the building safety crisis fund repairs would be easy. But it is the job of the government to ensure those that didn’t cause the crisis – building owners and leaseholders – do not pay for issues they didn’t create. A good place to start would be to hit manufacturers with a bill proportionate to their involvement in this crisis.

Gove must re-adopt his original ‘polluter pays’ policy, making those responsible for the building safety crisis liable for remediation costs. This is critical to making buildings safe as quickly as possible, while avoiding spiralling costs being passed to innocent victims.

Mick Platt, director, Residential Freehold Association