Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Leaseholders and Cladding

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:29 pm on 12th February 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sarah Jones Sarah Jones Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government) (Housing) 3:29 pm, 12th February 2020

That is absolutely correct. There is a whole raft of areas in which different evidence is gathered and different work needs to be done. There are questions about all those things. We do not know whether the people doing waking watch are doing it properly and are properly trained. We are spending money on things that we are not sure about. The lack of people doing those jobs is an important issue.

The announcement on 20 December that the height limit for removing ACM had shifted from 18 metres to 11 metres means that there are potentially thousands more blocks implicated in the cladding scandal than originally thought. That means that tens of thousands more leaseholders, who previously thought their blocks were safe, have now discovered that work needs to be done and that the Government do not deem their building safe. Additional safety requirements are welcome, but when it comes to building safety, it is unclear why the Government took two and a half years to decide that buildings between 11 metres and 18 metres were equally unsafe. Will the Minister clarify why they took so long to determine that blocks of that height should also have their cladding removed? Does the Department know how many residential blocks of between 11 metres and 18 metres exist across the country? How many are covered in Grenfell-style cladding? If the Government do not know how many blocks are covered, is there a plan in place to collect and publish that information, as has been done with blocks of 18 metres and above?

For two and a half years, we have had a merry-go-round of buck passing, and hundreds of thousands of people across the country are suffering as a result. It is disappointing that the Secretary of State was not asked about this more when he was doing the media rounds at the weekend, and that we have not seen more action. It is also disappointing that the Government are not engaging with leaseholders. A meeting in London was recently organised by the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, and 100 leaseholders were there. They were asked whether they have had regular engagement with Ministers, and not a single hand went up. We need to talk to people so we can understand the issues that they are facing.

If the Government are serious about the claims and pledges they made in the days and weeks following the Grenfell Tower fire, about their role in keeping people safe, about their commitment to homeowners, and about the principle that leaseholders should not be paying, it is time to act. I know this is difficult. It is a very big problem, and it will be very complicated to solve. If the Government act and do the right thing, the Opposition would thank them very much for doing so.