Labour to force vote to protect leaseholders from cladding costs

Elliot Chappell

Labour will force a parliamentary vote to protect leaseholders across the country from “intolerable” cladding costs highlighting today that millions are “trapped in unsafe and unsellable flats, with bills mounting”.

Ahead of the next opposition day debate in parliament on Monday, Thangam Debbonaire has criticised “government inaction” on the cladding scandal, almost four years on from the Grenfell tragedy. Labour has called on the Tories to:

  • “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.”

Debbonaire said: “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.”

The Shadow Housing Secretary added: “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.”

The Fire Brigades Union last year criticised the government for doing “the bare minimum to fend off bad headlines” after it was revealed that only a third of high-rise buildings with Grenfell-style cladding have had the material removed.

The Prime Minister admitted at the time that the failure to remove dangerous cladding was “disgraceful”, as he told the public that he was aware of the problems facing residents unable to sell or remortgage their properties.

Many are paying thousands on top of the costs of removing the flammable cladding for private companies to patrol their buildings, check for signs of fire and sounding the alarm if a fire is detected.

Asked what he is doing to help leaseholders, Labour leader Keir Starmer explained that his party aimed to protect residents from “intolerable” costs and unsellable properties this morning on LBC Radio.

Starmer told listeners: “This is complete unacceptable; it has come up a number of times. Three and a half years after Grenfell we still have people living in accommodation, which has cladding that needs to be removed…

“Every now and again, the opposition get a chance to make an argument to be voted on. We are going to say to the government, you have got three things, you need to work out the extent of the problem.

“Three-and-a-half years after Grenfell and the numbers are not sorted. Up front funding to deal with it and remedy it, and to protect leaseholders from bearing the cost.”

The announcement from the party this morning comes after Boris Johnson told MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions that the government would be coming up with a plan to sort the cladding crisis “very shortly”.

Below is the full text of the motion.

Keir Starmer
Angela Rayner
Thangam Debbonaire
Mike Amesbury
Steve Reed
Mr Nicholas Brown

Protecting tenants and leaseholders from unsafe cladding

That this House calls 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; protect leaseholders and taxpayers from the cost by pursuing those responsible for the cladding crisis; and update parliament once a month in the form of a written ministerial statement by the Secretary of State.

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