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Labour enters cladding controversy by forcing vote in Commons

Labour has entered the cladding controversy by calling a vote in the House of Commons to force government action on the issue. 

The vote will be held today, some three and a half years on from the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The party accuses the government of failing to get a grip of the cladding scandal, which is now estimated to affect millions of homes and as much as 16 per cent of Britain’s housing stock.

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Labour claims that despite repeated promises from ministers that leaseholders would not bear the cost of fixing problems they did not cause, innocent residents are enduring lockdown in flammable buildings, colossal bills for repair work, and hundreds of pounds per month on interim safety measures such as ‘waking watch’.

Labour’s motion calls on the government to urgently establish the extent of dangerous cladding and prioritise buildings according to risk; to provide upfront funding to ensure cladding remediation can start immediately; and to protect leaseholders and taxpayers from the cost by pursuing those responsible for the cladding crisis.

Labour has tabled an amendment to the Fire Safety Bill, to be debated today, to prevent building owners from passing unreasonable costs on to leaseholders. 

A similar amendment tabled by Conservative MPs Stephen McPartland and Royston Smith has been signed by 27 Tory MPs.

Thangam Debbonaire MP, Labour shadow housing secretary, says: “Millions of innocent leaseholders are seeing their dream of home ownership become a nightmare, forced to spend lockdown trapped in unsafe and unsellable flats, with bills mounting. The number of bankruptcies is growing.

“Government inaction on the cladding scandal has gone on for too long. Buildings must be made safe and residents must be protected. Ministers have consistently promised leaseholders they would not have to pay for this work, but consistently failed to deliver.

“Conservative MPs will have the chance to vote to ensure that the government keeps its promise and leaseholders are not burdened with the cost of fixing problems they did not cause.”

  • Matthew Payne

    This will have far reaching repercussions for the leasehold market for many years to come, with too many people trying to protect their own hides, whilst little gets resolved.

    90% of EWS inspections are bringing up construction defects such as missing fire breaks, defective or missing insulation, even timber balconies. Cladding is actually becoming a minority issue by volume. An estimate about 6 months ago put the remedial bill in at £4bn, and the government put aside £1.6bn of that in support. Now inspections are coming back showing decades of substandard construction standards, the estimates are going up almost weekly and now range between £15-20bn, about half of the entire defence budget. In the meantime 3.5m leaseholders have the sword of Damocles hanging over them until they manage to get the funding and sign off that their block is issue free.

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