LABOUR’S shadow housing secretary John Healey MP has called for the confiscation of private tower blocks if their owners fail to replace dangerous Grenfell-style cladding by the end of the year.
Ahead of today’s second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy, Healey urged the Government to set this ultimatum as part of a five-point plan on building safety for highrise residents across the country.
The plan calls for the Government to:
- Name and shame block-owners with dangerous cladding
- Set a December 2019 deadline for block-owners to get work done, or prove there has been substantial progress
- Update the sanctions available to councils under the Housing Act 2004 to include fines followed by confiscation of blocks that still have dangerous cladding
- Make Government funding already set aside for cladding remediation on private blocks available for councils who take over blocks with dangerous cladding
- Widen the Government-sponsored testing regime to comprehensively test non-ACM as well as ACM cladding, including on private blocks
According to the latest figures from the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG), as of the end of May, there were 328 highrise residential and publicly owned buildings that still had Grenfell-style ACM cladding in place.
Of these, 163 were private sector residential buildings and 102 were in the social sector. The remaining properties consisted of student accommodation (27), hotels (29) and seven health buildings.
In the social sector, work to deal with the dangerous cladding is underway for 81 buildings, while 20 have a remediation plan in place but works have not started. The last one is reported to be developing plans to deal with the cladding.
This is way ahead of the private sector, according to the figures: work is underway on 17 buildings, while 74 have a plan in place but work is yet to start. Meanwhile no plans are as yet in place to deal with ACM cladding on 72 of the buildings. Of these, 35 intend to carry out remediation works and are in the process of developing plans, while 37 have “unclear” remediation plans.
“Many private tower block owners have shown zero sign of replacing their Grenfell-style cladding, and Government Ministers are letting them drag their feet,” said Healey. “Two years on from the Grenfell Tower fire, concerned residents are still living in homes that may not be safe and many are having to pay for interim safety measures such as 24-hour fire wardens.
“Enough is enough. Private block owners should be made to replace this dangerous cladding, or face councils taking over ownership of these buildings to get this vital safety work done.”