Cladding crisis: Keir Starmer visits affected residents in London

1 February 2021, 14:28

Sir Keir Starmer has visited victims of the cladding crisis in London
Sir Keir Starmer has visited victims of the cladding crisis in London. Picture: PA Images/LBC
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Sir Keir Starmer has visited residents living in buildings affected by the ongoing cladding crisis in London ahead of a major Commons debate on Monday.

The Labour leader visited residents at Albert House in Woolwich - a tower block which has cladding that was deemed unsafe as a result of the Grenfell tragedy in 2017.

The inquiry into the disaster was temporarily suspended and some repair works were paused earlier this year as the UK dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving residents scared for their safety even longer.

Read more: Labour tells ministers to 'get a grip' over cladding crisis

But Labour is now calling on the Government to "get a grip" on the crisis and set up the 'National Cladding Taskforce', which would seek to urgently carry out an audit to establish the extent of dangerous materials on buildings - modelled on the approach adopted in Australia.

Six demands have been set out by the party towards fixing the issue, including providing immediate up-front funding to remove deadly cladding and setting absolute deadlines to make homes safe.

Since Grenfell many campaign groups have been set up by both tenants and leaseholders who have seen little to no work done on their dangerous cladding - or have been told they face exorbitant costs to fix the issue.

Ahead of an opposition debate Monday afternoon, Sir Keir said: "I urge Conservative MPs to vote with us in Parliament today (Monday) and put their constituents' safety and security first.

"And I urge the Government to get a grip of this crisis through a national task force and by implementing Labour's six demands."

Comment: Australia's steps on cladding crisis shame the Government

Research from Labour estimates that millions of homes - up to 16% of housing stock - could be affected, with residents trapped in dangerous properties they cannot sell.

Included in the proposed 'six points' are new laws to protect leaseholders from being passed historic fire safety costs, protecting leaseholders and taxpayers by pursuing those responsible for putting cladding on the buildings, as well as stamping out rogue builders by reforming the sector.

Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer visited residents with dangerous cladding in London
Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer visited residents with dangerous cladding in London. Picture: PA Images

Sir Keir said he wants there to be a "turning point" for those affected by the cladding scandal after the debate.

He added: "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."

The Commons vote on Monday will call on ministers to establish the extent of the problem, provide upfront funding to ensure cladding remediation can start immediately and protect leaseholders - and the taxpayer - from the cost.

Follow the debate - starting at 3.30pm on Monday - live on LBC.