The Polluter Pays Bill explained
The main objective of the Polluter Pays Bill is to ensure that those directly responsible for the Building Safety Crisis pay in full for the damage they have caused. By widening and deepening the pool of responsible parties to include major contractors, suppliers of unsafe materials, insurance companies, special purpose vehicles, etc., the burden on Leaseholders and Taxpayers would be substantially reduced. It would also reduce the risk of moral hazard and a repetition of the crisis by providing a future “consumer protection” scheme.
We would like the Government to ensure that developers and other responsible parties pay for interim fire safety costs (waking watches, building insurance premium increases, etc.) and remediation costs where a building is found not to have compiled with building regulations in force at the time of its construction. This is not retrospective legislation, if a building complied with the regulations in force when it was built but is now considered by the Government to be unsafe; we do not propose that the original developer should have any liability.
However, rather than making developers pay in full if they failed to comply with building regulations in force at the time of construction, the Government is effectively capping their liability at £2 billion through its Residential Property Developer Tax. The minority of developers that built defective buildings are sharing the cost of dealing with their wrongdoing across the sector and avoiding paying in full for the damage they have caused. (The largest developers can certainly afford to pay; over the last ten years they paid out over £12 billion to their shareholders.) Other responsible parties are escaping liability completely – major contractors or companies supplying unsafe materials.
Inspections following Grenfell have exposed egregious behaviour by some developers. There are numerous examples of buildings lacking adequate internal compartmentation or properly fitted fire breaks. In other cases, like Royal Artillery Quays, although the materials used in the External Wall System (EWS) were compliant, they were not fitted in line with manufacturer’s installation requirements and so the building did not meet building regulations in force at the time of construction.
We would like the Government to embody the “Polluter Pays” principle in the Building Safety Bill and legislate to ensure that where buildings did not meet building regulations in force at the time of construction the responsible parties pay in full for their remediation.
As is the case with Environmental Protection legislation, we propose that local authorities or another public body determines building standards compliance and apportions liability. (Leaseholders do not have the funds or, in most cases, the standing to pursue well-funded developers through the courts.) This would allow public funds to be targeted on orphan liabilities and buildings that were built to standard but are now seen as unsafe.
Please show your support and sign our open letter here.