'Developers must fix their own buildings': Gove vows to end cladding scandal

10 January 2022, 15:55 | Updated: 10 January 2022, 16:00

Gove: 'Developers must fix their own buildings'

By Asher McShane

Leaseholders must not "shoulder the burden" of paying to fix dangerous cladding on blocks of flats, Michael Gove said today.

Mr Gove announced a series of steps aimed at halting the scandal of leaseholders being saddled with huge bills to fix fire-risk cladding in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, in which 72 lives were lost.

"Four and half years on from the tragedy of Grenfell... we will seek to address past wrongs," Mr Gove told the House of Commons.

"No leaseholder living in a building above 11 metres will ever face any costs to fix dangerous cladding.

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"And, working with members of both houses, we will pursue statutory protection for leaseholders and nothing will be off the table."

At the moment only people in buildings more than 18 metres high are entitled to financial help, but Mr Gove said that is going to be reduced to 11 metres.

Mr Gove told the Commons "Developers must fix their own buildings," warning unsafe developers "we are coming for you".

He said leaseholders were "shouldering a desperately unfair burden" and the "industries who profited" should be paying for the mistakes.

He added: "We will also ensure that those who profited and and continue to profit from the sale of unsafe buildings and construction products must take full responsibility for their actions and pay to put things right.

"Those who knowingly put lives at risk should be held to account for their crimes, and those who are seeking to profit from the crisis by making it worse should be stopped from doing so. Today I am putting them on notice.

"To those who missold dangerous products like cladding or insulation, to those who cut corners to save cash as they developed or refurbished people's homes, and to those who sought to profiteer from the consequences of the Grenfell tragedy - we are coming for you."

Thousands of leaseholders are trapped in unsellable homes and face ruinous bills to fix cladding. Many of the buildings - both low and high rise - are in Manchester and Liverpool.

Mr Gove announced a package of measures to restore what the government calls 'common sense' to the industry and end the situation of buildings being declared unsafe when they are not.

Speaking to LBC earlier today, Mr Gove admitted the Government "did get stuff wrong" in the cladding crisis.

His comments came after it was announced developers must agree to a £4 billion plan to fix dangerous cladding on low-rise flats by early March or risk new laws forcing them to act.

He said some of those that argued they were abiding by building regulations at the time did not have a "strong case".

He told LBC's Nick Ferrari: "It's also the case that there were lots of steps that were taken which put people at risk, and without wanting to pre-empt what the independent inquiry into Grenfell will conclude, I think it is... you would be hard-pressed to say that putting, essentially, sheets of liquid petrol encased in metal on the side of a tower block was the right thing to do."

He added: "I think it's fair to say that, actually, those who argue that they were compliant in doing that, I don't think have a very strong case.

"I think you'd have to be a very, very, very selective reader of the evidence there in order to draw that conclusion."