Two Conservative MPs have written to all their colleagues asking them to press the government for action to protect leaseholders from the cost of removing dangerous cladding, as campaigners send a letter to chancellor Rishi Sunak asking him to take action on the crisis at the Budget this week.
Stephen McPartland and Royston Smith this week emailed all Conservative MPs who are not ministers asking them to take a stand over the current position, which is seeing costs for remediation passed on to leaseholders in thousands of buildings across the UK.
“The government has done its best, but it has been over three years and they are not tackling all the issues,” they wrote. “There are lots of options and solutions to support the millions of leaseholders that are being left behind in our constituencies and we are working with the UK Cladding Action Group (UKCAG) to urge the government to support leaseholders.”
Inside Housing is a partner with UKCAG and dozens of other cladding action groups around the UK on the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign, which asks the government to pay the costs for remediation work up front and then recoup the cash from those responsible for any failures.
Currently, more than 2,800 buildings have registered an interest in receiving funding from a £1bn pot that will cover only around 500 buildings.
In response to government advice notes, lenders have been refusing mortgages on buildings unless they can receive sign-off from a fire engineer, meaning hundreds of thousands of residents are unable to move house.
Mr McPartland, MP for Stevenage, said: “Leaseholders are the innocent parties in this nightmare and they should not have to pay. There are lots of possible solutions and the secretary of state has to sit down and work with us to end the cladding scandal.
“He needs to get out of his ivory tower, stop talking and start actually helping the millions of leaseholders being left behind.”
Mr Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen, added: “Of all the organisations and people who bear some responsibility, the ones who don’t are the innocent leaseholders.
“It was government legislation and regulation which allowed this to happen, so it falls on government to find the solution. Developers, funders, architects – whoever designed and built these blocks share the responsibility to find a solution, but it should not fall on those who carried out their due diligence (conveyancing) but have found themselves caught in this immoral trap. The government has tried. But they have not yet done enough.”
It comes as campaigners for the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign wrote to chancellor Rishi Sunak asking him to use his Spending Review tomorrow to go further to protect those living in dangerous homes.
The letter says: “The building regulatory system has been broken for decades. This is a clear failure of successive governments, and it is gravely unfair that ordinary, innocent people are to be forced to pay costs, often far exceeding our annual salaries.
“As a party that espouses homeownership as one of its ‘fundamental values’, this is no fair or decent way to act true to those statements.
“We now call on you, as chancellor of the exchequer, to grasp the nettle of this crisis and ensure sufficient funds are made available to ensure our homes are made safe.”
An MHCLG spokesperson said: “We understand many people will be worried – our priority is making sure residents are safe and feel safe in their homes by removing dangerous cladding as quickly as possible.
“We have given £1.6 billion to speed up the removal of cladding – and we are making significant progress, with work complete or under way in almost 80% of high-rise buildings with ACM cladding, rising to above 95% in the social housing sector.
“Building safety is the responsibility of building owners and they should seek the costs of remediation work from developers and their warranty schemes, without passing them on to leaseholders.
“We are developing affordable solutions where needed and will provide more details in due course.”
Based on the recommendations of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee and backed by a range of sector bodies and MPs from across the political spectrum, these are Inside Housing’s 10 steps to End Our Cladding Scandal:
Individuals and experts:
Lord Young of Cookham (Conservative)