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Public Services

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 1:38 pm on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Clive Betts Clive Betts Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee 1:38 pm, 16th October 2019

I am very sympathetic to the point the hon. Gentleman makes about the situation in Cumbria. Having one council holding everything up certainly needs addressing, and I understand the problem he highlights.

I will move on to building safety. The Government have finally accepted that they will legislate to bring in the recommendations of the Hackitt review. When Dame Judith came to the Select Committee last December, she said she was disappointed that it had taken the Government seven months to accept that they would implement all her recommendations. I am a little bit worried that the Queen’s Speech refers to legislating, but no specific Bill is mentioned in the list of measures. Building safety is really important, but it needs to be accompanied by adequate funding.

Thousands of people in this country still live in high-rise blocks and other properties with dangerous cladding. The Government have put money in place for social housing, and they have now put it in place for the private sector, but there needs to be greater urgency to ensure that it is spent, and in particular that reluctant private owners are made to do the work. There is an additional problem. Not only high-rise but high-risk buildings, such as old people’s homes and hospitals, need addressing, as well as cladding other than ACM—for example, zinc cladding material. The Government are reviewing all that, but there are many concerns and suspicions. Kevin Hollinrake has pushed hard on the matter in the Select Committee. Cladding needs addressing and the Government will have to find probably billions more pounds to deal with the problem to ensure that not merely homes, but hospitals, schools and every form of accommodation are safe.