Robert Jenrick announces £3.5 billion to ‘help end the cladding scandal’

Cladding debate (PA Wire)
13:38pm, Wed 10 Feb 2021
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The Government is to provide a further £3.5 billion to help end the “cladding scandal” in England, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said.

In a Commons statement, Mr Jenrick told MPs that it would mean leaseholders in high-rise blocks would face no costs for cladding remediation work.

And he said that those in low and medium rise blocks would never have to pay more than £50 a month for cladding removal work.

To help fund the scheme he said that the Government was imposing a new tax on residential property in the UK.

He said that without Government action building owners would simply pass on the costs of remediation work to leaseholders.

“That would risk punishing those who have worked hard, who have bought their own home, but through no fault of their own have found themselves caught in an absolutely invidious situation,” he said.

“I’m therefore, today, making an exceptional intervention on behalf of the Government and providing certainty that leaseholders in high-rise residential buildings will face no costs for cladding remediation works.

“This will ensure that we end the cladding scandal in a way that is fair and generous to leaseholders.”

However, Labour said that – three-and-a-half years after the Grenfell fire tragedy – the assistance had come far too late for many leaseholders.

Shadow housing secretary Thangam Debbonaire said ministers had still not delivered on a promise made last March to remove all unsafe cladding from high rise blocks.

“Today’s announcement is too late for too many. It’s a repeat of undelivered promises and backtracks on the key one that leaseholders should have no costs to pay,” she said.

Thangam Debbonaire (PA Archive)

“At every stage, the Government underestimated the problem and delays caused it to grow. They still don’t know how many buildings are unsafe, where they are or what danger they pose.

“And until we have answers to those basic questions, Government will continue to make mistakes, offering piece-meal solutions that then have to be updated when they don’t deliver.”

Conservative MP Stephen McPartland – a prominent critic of the Government’s handling of the cladding crisis – dismissed the statement as “all smoke and mirrors”.

He said that Mr Jenrick had failed to make any mention of the fire safety defects, waking watches and “excessive” insurance premiums which were the main costs for many leaseholders.

“I am listening to Robert Jenrick’s announcement with my head in my hands. Wondering how he can have got this so wrong,” he tweeted.

“It is a betrayal of millions of leaseholders. It is not good enough. It is shocking incompetence. It is clear the PM has to step in now.”

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