Labour leader to force vote in parliament on issue affecting ‘millions’ of homeowners
The Labour Party has called for the government to fund the replacement of dangerous cladding on affected buildings immediately, ahead of a vote in parliament on the issue today.
Labour is to use an opposition day in the House of Commons to press the government to support a motion calling on it to “provide up-front funding to ensure cladding remediation can start immediately”, in order to help hundreds of thousands of people affected by the problem.
Labour’s challenge to the government on the issue follows increasing public anger over the failure to ensure work to remediate affected housing blocks has been undertaken more than three years on from the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
The problem has left leaseholders across the country facing bills of thousands of pounds to repair defective cladding systems, and unable to sell their homes until the work is completed.
While the government has allocated £1.6bn to deal with the problem, it has consistently refused to fund the repair of blocks up-front, with leaseholders arguing the money is far below what is necessary to tackle the scale of the problem.
Labour said an analysis it had undertaken of the problem suggested it could affect as many as 11 million people in 4.6 million properties – as much as 16% of the UK’s housing stock.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (pictured, right) called for the creation of a national cladding taskforce, such as the one set up in Australia, to tackle the issue, which will fund works up-front, and then pursue those responsible in order to return money to the taxpayer.
Starmer also said the government should set in place a legally enforceable 2022 deadline for all cladding works to be completed.
Keir Starmer urged the government to “get a grip” of the problem. “Millions of people have been sucked into this crisis due to years of dither, delay and half-baked solutions from the government,” he said.
“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.”
Starmer urged Conservative MPs to vote with Labour on the issue, with press reports suggesting that Conservative MPs are expected to be ordered to abstain in the vote, likely this evening, in order to reduce the risk of a rebellion.
Israel Moskovitz, a professional freeholder and chairman of the Avon Group, said it was clear the government’s cladding fund was “drastically insufficient” and that the government must not leave leaseholders footing the bill for works. He said: “Those people who are looking to sell their flats in buildings affected have been trapped through no fault of their own.”
The news comes as the government is also likely to face calls from some on its own side to extend the current stamp duty holiday in a Westminster Hall debate today. The debate was secured after nearly 140,000 people signed a petition to the House of Commons calling for a six month extension to chancellor Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty holiday, introduced last July. The holiday is due to end on 31 March.
A group of organisations representing housing for older people today grouped together to call on the government to bring in a specific stamp duty extension for older people’s housing. The Association of Retirement Housing Managers, the Retirement Housing Group UK, the Retirement Housebuilders Group within the HBF, the Association of Retirement Community Operators, the Civil Servants Pensioners’ Alliance, The National Association of Retired Police Officers and National Federation of Occupational Pensioners, the Housing LIN, the International Longevity Centre and the Chartered Institute of Housing all signed a letter to the chancellor today calling for an exemption.