Sunday 31 January 2021 / 10:30 PM Housing

Keir Starmer sets out cladding demands ahead of crunch vote to protect leaseholders from costs

Keir Starmer today (Monday) has set out a series of demands to tackle the cladding scandal, as new figures from Labour suggest up to 11 million people are at risk from life changing cladding costs and unsellable properties.

Ahead of a crunch vote in Parliament today, the Labour leader has called for a new National Cladding Taskforce, modelled on the successful approach taken in Australia, to get a grip on the deepening cladding crisis and protect leaseholders from bearing the cost.

As analysis shows one in six UK homes are now at risk from the cladding scandal, Starmer also set out a comprehensive set of policy demands to kickstart action from Government. He argued that today must be a “turning point” for the crisis.

The intervention comes ahead of a visit by the Labour leader in South East London today, where he will meet with leaseholders living in blocks with dangerous cladding. After Ministers promised 15 times to protect leaseholders, Labour is urging Conservative MPs to support its motion to ensure costs are not passed on to residents and those responsible for the cladding scandal are pursued.

The National Cladding Taskforce would drive forward Labour’s six demands for safer homes, which include:

  1. Immediate up-front funding for removing deadly cladding and other urgent fire safety work
  2. Protecting leaseholders and taxpayers by pursuing those responsible for the cladding scandal for costs
  3. A new, legally enforceable 2022 deadline to make homes safe
  4. Legislation to protect residents from costs
  5. Getting the market moving by ensuring affected residents can sell and re-mortgage
  6. Stamping out rogue builders by reforming the sector

Labour is calling for a National Cladding Taskforce to drive this work after years of delays and ineffective measures from the Government. The taskforce would be given strong powers to establish the full extent of dangerous materials on buildings, prioritise them according to risk and ensure there is enforcement against those who refuse to undertake works.

Labour’s analysis of figures from the New Build Database and the ONS suggests the cladding scandal could be even larger than previously thought, affecting as many as 11 million people. The New Build Database estimates the scandal may affect up to 4.6 million properties, with an average of 2.4 residents per property. Data also shows the scandal risks freezing the entire market for flats, after sales halved compared to last year.

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“Today 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.

“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.”