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Tower Block Remediation Deadline

Volume 717: debated on Monday 27 June 2022

5. If he will impose a legally binding deadline for remediation works on tower blocks in England that are deemed unsafe as a result of (a) cladding and (b) other associated fire risks. (900716)

The Government are providing funds to remediate unsafe cladding in buildings above 11 metres and have secured unprecedented pledges from developers to fix the buildings they constructed. Today, I have written an open letter to all building owners of properties with critical building safety defects to remind them that we have taken powers, through the Building Safety Act 2022, to compel them to fund and undertake the necessary work to make all buildings safe.

We still have no legal deadline in place to fix cladding and fire safety issues and no justice for Grenfell, and thousands of buildings, including in my constituency, are still unsafe. The Government have been dodging their responsibilities for more than the past five years. In January, the Secretary of State said that leaseholders are “blameless” and that it would be “morally wrong” for them to pay. Why, then, does he think it is fair for so many leaseholders, including in my Battersea constituency, to potentially have to pay £15,000 for non-cladding costs to correct problems that they did not cause?

The hon. Lady makes a number of important points. It is fair to say, and most people in the House would acknowledge, that, although progress over the past five years has not been everything that it should be, in recent months we have succeeded in securing commitments from developers to remediate the buildings for which they are responsible. With the publication of the open letter today and the passing of the Building Safety Act, a requirement has been placed on freeholders to pay for the work that is required. We have a cap on the commitments that any leaseholder has to enter into and that cap is consistent with the precedent in Florrie’s law. I look forward to working with the hon. Lady, as an assiduous constituency Member of Parliament, to make sure that those whom she serves are relieved of any obligation beyond that which is fair to ensure that their buildings are safe.

Most of the new build properties built in North West Durham are built to a high standard, but sadly some are not, and when they are not, people get in touch with my constituency office. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that by further extending the rights of residents to seek compensation for issues arising from poor workmanship during construction we will help millions of new homeowners throughout the country to have the opportunity to pursue developers for poor workmanship, so that no one is left in substandard new housing?

My hon. Friend is a brilliant campaigner not just for his constituency but for those who are in poor housing. Although the overwhelming number of new homes are built to very high standards, some do not meet the quality and decency thresholds that they should. I will work with my hon. Friend to achieve precisely the goal that he outlined.