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Residential Buildings: Cladding

Volume 678: debated on Monday 20 July 2020

What steps his Department is taking to ensure that dangerous cladding is removed from residential buildings of all heights. (904959)

We are taking action with the biggest reforms of building and fire safety in nearly 40 years through the Building Safety Bill, which we are publishing in draft form today. To tackle the most urgent problems, we have made available £1.6 billion to remove unsafe cladding systems, so there should be no excuse for further delay. We have made progress. Over two thirds of high-rise buildings with the most dangerous Grenfell-type aluminium composite material, or ACM, cladding have either been completed or they have started their remediation.

With applications for more than 1,000 buildings made to the building safety fund already, it is clear that £1.6 billion will not be anywhere near enough to remedy all high-risk residential buildings that still have dangerous cladding, more than three years after the Grenfell Tower fire. The Government are trying to find ways to fit a potential £15 billion liability into a £1.6 billion funding pot. Will the Minister commit to release more funding in line with the Select Committee recommendation to ensure that all fire safety defects in every high-risk residential building are addressed, allowing residents to live safely in their homes without fear of bankruptcy?

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his question. To date, we have received 1,378 completed registration forms for the building safety fund. We expect the money made available by the Chancellor in this fiscal year to be fully allocated by March, so that the buildings that most need remediation where the owners were not able to act quickly can be helped. We have always made it clear that we expect a significant proportion of remediation costs to fall on the shoulders of those responsible for the original work or the building owners, and certainly not on the leaseholders.

Although we welcome the publication, finally, of the draft Building Safety Bill today, the Department’s own figures highlight the fact that 246 buildings are still wrapped in Grenfell-style cladding and thousands more are cladded in equally flammable materials. How will the measures outlined in the Bill speed up remediation while increasing the size and the scope of the building safety fund?

Some 72% of buildings that had ACM cladding have had that cladding removed. I refer to the hon. Gentleman to the Adjournment debate secured by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali) to which I replied. I said that tough enforcement action is on its way for those owners that are responsible but are not taking action to remediate their buildings. I look forward to working with the hon. Gentleman as the Building Safety Bill passes through this House and the other place to make sure that we have a good Bill that is fit for purpose. This Government are committed to doing so; I trust he is, too.