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Labour in bid to ensure unsafe cladding is removed from every home by June 2022



Opposition MPs are to demand a legal guarantee that dangerous cladding is removed from every home by mid-2022.

And they will attempt to force a vote, inviting Conservatives to join them in forcing the Government to take action.

Residents in many parts of Birmingham currently face massive bills to make their homes safe, after they were found to have unsafe cladding following the Grenfell fire in 2017, which caused 72 deaths.

Birmingham Live has reported on the plight of residents in Hemisphere Apartments, Edgbaston, whose homes are effectively worthless because they cannot be sold. Residents not only face the cost of making the building safe, but also have to pay for 24-hour fire patrols and rocketing insurance prices.

Altogether, residents in the development’s 344 apartments paid around £2,000 per flat last year in interim costs.

City MP Shabana Mahmood has told the House of Commons how a blaze in Brindley House, in Newhall Street, was only two minutes away from engulfing the whole building before fire-fighters bought it under control.

She said: “I have seen the burned-out husk of that flat for myself. The fire service said that the residents were only two minutes away from the fire engulfing the whole of their building.”

Labour will attempt to move an amendment during a Commons debate on the Queen’s Speech which would set a deadline for developers to remove unsafe and combustible cladding, and carry out all necessary remediation work to make buildings safe.

It would call on the Government to make all homes safe by June 2022; protect leaseholders from the cost of remediation works, and pursue those responsible for the building safety scandal for costs.

Labour’s new Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, Lucy Powell, said: “The government must step up and end the waking nightmare for millions of residents trapped in unsafe, unsellable homes. Through no fault of their own, leaseholders’ lives are on hold, faced with crippling costs, with the fear of fire a real and present danger for many.”

The Government insists that measures already taken mean leaseholders will not bear the cost of removing the flammable materials, but critics say the Fire Safety Bill will leave some people liable for costs of up to £50,000.

One aspect of the Government’s plans is a loan scheme that would see affected leaseholders contribute up to £50 a month for works on buildings between 11 metres and 18 metres high.

The Housing, Communities and Local Government committee has issued a report calling on ministers to abolish the loan scheme and commit to protecting leaseholders from any of the costs of remediation.

Speaking last month in the House of Commons, Ms Mahmood said: “Four years have passed since the Grenfell tragedy, and once again the House is debating whether or not to protect leaseholders from the costs of remedying fire safety defects caused by a failure of regulation and negligence, as well as by deceptive practices in the building industry. Meanwhile, the Government continue to dither and delay, and order their MPs to vote against amendments designed to protect leaseholders.

“Make no mistake, the funds that the Government have made available thus far have taken too much time to come on stream. The money will not ultimately be enough to meet the scale of the crisis and, crucially, interim costs are not covered.

On top of all those costs, today we have heard about the cost of insurance. I have lost count of the times that I have pleaded with the Government to do something about insurance costs. In my constituency there have been insurance increases of 1,000% in affected buildings. Those are shocking figures, and this shocking situation is falling on deaf ears as far as the Government are concerned. “





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