I have been contacted by many constituents regarding the remediation of unsafe cladding on residential blocks. I have deep concerns that people are being put at risk, trapped in flammable buildings for a third lockdown, and facing an unclear financial future.
Despite repeated promises from Ministers that cladding remediation costs would not be passed onto leaseholders, the Government has failed to deliver on this. In the meantime, leaseholders across the country remain trapped in unsafe blocks facing increasing interim costs and are often unable to sell or re-mortgage their property.
Inaction has gone on too long. Labour is forcing a vote in Parliament today calling on the Government to urgently establish the extent of dangerous cladding and prioritise buildings according to risk, provide upfront funding to ensure cladding remediation can start immediately, and protect leaseholders and taxpayers from the cost by pursuing those responsible for the cladding crisis.
I will also be supporting amendments to the Fire Safety Bill that hold the Government to their promise and help ensure leaseholders are protected from unfair fire safety costs. The amendment tabled by McPartland and Smith provides welcome clarity on the specific costs that would be prevented from being passed on to leaseholders, but Labour has sought to go further.
As currently drafted, the McPartland and Smith amendment would not cover leaseholders in blocks where flammable cladding has been added at some stage following the building of the block. It only applies to defects in the original design of buildings. As an example, the Grenfell Tower was built in the 1970s, but the flammable cladding was added in 2017. Labour has tabled an amendment that would ensure that the cost of fire safety problems from refurbishment jobs, like the cladding on the Grenfell tower, cannot be passed on to leaseholders.
Labour’s amendments also include new clauses so that the Bill protects leaseholders from the day it comes into law, instead of an unknown date in the future. And Labour’s amendments ensure that if the Fire Safety Order is extended in the future, the Secretary of State must publish an analysis of the financial implications for leaseholders.
MPs will be given the opportunity to vote for these amendments when the Bill returns to the House of Commons.