Labour calls for taskforce to ‘get a grip’ on cladding crisis after ‘years of dither and delay’
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 01/02/2021
A national taskforce should be created to “get a grip” on the cladding crisis, the Labour Party says.
The call comes ahead of a parliamentary debate today about protecting tenants and leaseholders from unsafe cladding.
The National Cladding Taskforce would seek to carry out an urgent audit to establish the extent of dangerous materials on buildings.
Demands include providing upfront funding to remove deadly cladding, setting absolute deadlines to make homes safe, laws to protect leaseholders from being billed for historic fire safety costs, pursuing those responsible for installing cladding and stamping out rogue building practices.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Today (Monday) needs to be a turning point for those affected by the cladding scandal.
“Millions of people have been sucked into this crisis due to years of dither, delay and half-baked solutions from the government.
“For many leaseholders, the dream of home ownership has become a nightmare.
“They feel abandoned, locked down in flammable homes and facing ruinous costs for repair work and interim safety measures.”
It comes more than three years after the fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, which claimed the lives of 72 people.
A fridge-freezer has been blamed for starting the fire but dangerous cladding on the building was blamed for its rapid spread.
Laws designed to make sure dangerous cladding is identified and removed has left many flats unmortgageable and unsellable, with residents facing bills of tens of thousands of pounds to fix the problem.
The Labour Party has also said the government should work with lenders, insurers and other industry leaders to make sure owners and leaseholders can sell and remortgage their properties.
Sir Keir said: “I urge Conservative MPs to vote with us in parliament today and put their constituents’ safety and security first.
“And I urge the government to get a grip of this crisis through a national taskforce and by implementing Labour’s six demands.”
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Leaseholders shouldn’t have to worry about the unaffordable costs of fixing safety defects in high-rise buildings that they didn’t cause – and should be protected from large-scale remediation costs wherever possible.
“We all want to see homes made safer, as quickly as possible and backed by our £1.6bn funding we are making good progress on remediating unsafe homes.
“The Building Safety Bill is the appropriate legislative mechanism for addressing these issues and will be brought forward in due course.”
© Sky News 2020