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Unsafe Cladding

Volume 725: debated on Monday 9 January 2023

The Government are providing a significant amount of taxpayer subsidy to remediate cladding on high-rise residential buildings, 95% of buildings with unsafe ACM cladding have work under way or complete, and over £1.6 billion has been allocated from the fund alongside a wider set of interventions to speed up resolution for those leaseholders who are impacted.

It is quite clear to me that freeholders and managing agents have a duty of care towards residents, whether they be leaseholders or tenants. In Ipswich, we have two quite dramatic examples of where these freeholders and agents are dramatically failing the residents. We have Cardinal Lofts, which the Minister is aware of, but we also have St Francis Tower, where we have had residents for over a year living in darkness with no natural light because of the shrink wrap. Will the Minister confirm whether there are any plans for a new regulatory framework to make sure that these cowboy companies such as Block Management, which has refused to respond to my emails about block management, are held to account, and also to ensure that there are clear standards when it comes to remediation works?

My hon. Friend is an absolute champion for the issues that his constituents have highlighted to him, and I had the privilege of accompanying him on a visit to one of those particular buildings—Cardinal Lofts—a few weeks ago. Building owners have a responsibility to remediate the buildings that they own, and they have access to funds with which they are able to do that. They should be ensuring that developers and other interested parties are followed up accordingly to make sure that the ultimate aim, which is to ensure that leaseholders are not impacted, is resolved as quickly as it can be.

The Minister understands what a terrible problem this unsafe cladding is. A development in my constituency, Dalston Square, has unsafe cladding and the builders, Barratt, have accepted responsibility and put up scaffolding to deal with it. That scaffolding has been up for two years and nothing has happened because of a dispute between the builders and the contractors. Is there no way in which the Government can ensure that unsafe cladding is dealt with promptly so that tenants or residents do not suffer from the problems they encounter in having scaffolding up for two years?

The right hon. Lady raises an important point. We need to get these properties resolved, mitigated and improved and that needs to be done in a way that works, as much as it can, for leaseholders, who should not be impacted by this in the first place. I will be happy to receive any information on the building she mentioned; I visited a flat in Manchester just a few weeks ago which had a similar issue and I will be happy to talk to her about this specific issue in more detail.