U.K. residential developers will be asked by the government to pay as much as 4 billion pounds (US$5.4 billion) to cover the costs of stripping dangerous cladding from thousands of apartment blocks in England, the Financial Times reported.

Housing secretary Michael Gove has been told by the Treasury that developers must pay to remove the cladding from lower height buildings or face a legal obligation to pay, the newspaper said, citing a person close to Gove it did not identify.

Homebuilders and the government have faced pressure to do more on safety since 2017, when cladding on the Grenfell Tower in West London caught fire, killing 72 and revealing the widespread use of similar materials across Britain.

The government announced new cash last year for a "safety fund" to remove the material, but critics warned it did not go far enough as it only covered those people living in buildings taller than 18 meters (59 feet), or above six stories.

The Treasury has told Gove that no additional government cash will be provided to remove the cladding from buildings lower than that height, the FT said, reporting that Gove will make a statement on the issue next week. - Bloomberg