Cladding crisis: MPs back Labour motion in favour of National Cladding Taskforce

1 February 2021, 20:06 | Updated: 1 February 2021, 20:09

Contractors undertake works at a residential property in Paddington, London, as part of a project to remove and replace non-compliant cladding
Contractors undertake works at a residential property in Paddington, London, as part of a project to remove and replace non-compliant cladding. Picture: PA

By Megan White

MPs have backed Labour's non-binding motion urging the Government to establish a national taskforce to fully examine the extent of "dangerous" cladding in England.

They voted 263 to zero in favour of the motion backing calls for a National Cladding Taskforce, but the recommendations are unlikely to be implemented by the Government.

The Opposition Day vote was forced by Labour, with the Government whips not getting involved in the division - and Conservative MPs ordered to abstain.

Read more: Cladding crisis: Keir Starmer visits affected residents in London

The motion also called for new laws to prevent the costs of cladding replacement and other fire safety work being passed on to tenants and leaseholders.

But it is not legally binding, and the Government has said it is not likely to follow its recommendations.

The vote comes more than three and a half years after the disaster at Grenfell Tower in 2017, which killed 72 people.

Responding to the result, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary Thangam Debbonaire said: “It is an insult to homeowners that the Conservative Government did not vote to protect them.

"Home ownership can be a dream come true, but for 11 million people in unsafe, unsellable flats, there is no end in sight to this nightmare.

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

“The Government must urgently establish the extent of this crisis, protect leaseholders from ruinous costs and make sure those responsible pay to make homes safe.”

Earlier on Monday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer 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."

Sir Keir added: "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 task force and by implementing Labour's six demands."

The National Cladding Taskforce proposed by Labour would be modelled on the approach adopted in Australia and would seek to urgently carry out an audit to establish the extent of dangerous materials on buildings.

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.

The measures include creating 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.

The party has also said the Government should work with lenders, insurers and other industry leaders to ensure residents can sell and remortgage.

It comes after the Government has announced a £30 million fund to help end the scandal of excessive waking watch costs, following questions by LBC's Rachael Venables.