Scotland emergency budget review: Funding to remove unsafe cladding cut as part of government review

Funding has been slashed from the Scottish Government’s programme to remove potentially dangerous cladding from buildings across Scotland as part of its emergency budget review.

The confirmation of the cuts come in the same week internal Government documents questioned the future of the programme and complained resources were “scarce”. It is understood the overall commitment to the cladding remediation budget has not changed. However, £6 million of savings has been found from the Government’s in-year budget.

The decrease in funding is part of the £1.2 billion swingeing cuts outlined by John Swinney in Holyrood on Wednesday, with the deputy first minister later stating that “we have no more money”. In total, £10m in capital funding has been saved from the housing budget, including £4m from the More Homes fund due to global supply chain issues.

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Earlier this week, Scottish Labour criticised the handling of the cladding replacement scheme after internal documents, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, revealed the future of the cladding project was at risk.

A key internal progress document titled a delivery confidence assessment, which describes challenges to the project, labelled the cladding remediation project as being “Amber/Red”, meaning the success of the project is “in doubt”. The document adds this coding means there are “major risks or issues apparent” and “urgent action” is needed to to establish “whether resolution is feasible”.

The next level up, coded as ‘Red’, would mean the project “appears to be unachievable”.

Flammable insulating material was partially blamed for the fatal Grenfell Tower high-rise block fire in 2017, which claimed the lives of 72 people. Many flat owners are struggling to sell or re-mortgage homes which are fitted with similar style cladding due to safety fears.

The Scottish Government expanded their Single Building Assessment programme, part of their cladding remediation programme, earlier this year, with 100 buildings in total part of the scheme. It states that addressing cladding issues is a “highly complex process”, with housing secretary Shona Robison accepting progress had not been fast enough in many cases.

Photo of The Grenfell Tower, as Scottish Government budget to remove potentially dangerous Grenfell-style cladding has been cut

In Holyrood on Tuesday, she said: “I reassure home owners that the programme is not in any way at risk. It is a complex programme that is moving forward, with assessments being completed and discussions on remediation under way.”

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