Grenfell Tower: Anger despite Government making billions available to help cladding crisis

  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

Billions of pounds in funding to help tackle the cladding crisis has been announced - more than three and a half years after the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick is addressing MPs where he has confirmed leaseholders in high-rise residential buildings will face no costs for cladding remediation works.

The Government will fund the “removal and replacement” of cladding on taller residential buildings, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said.

In a statement on cladding, he told the Commons: “We will make further funding available to pay for the removal and replacement of unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in high-rise residential building of 18-metres and above – or above six storeys – in England.

“We continue to take a safety-led approach and this funding will focus on the higher-rise buildings where the independent expert advisory panel tells us – time and again – the overwhelming majority of the safety risk lies, in line with the existing building safety fund and the anticipated scope of the new building safety regulator that we’re establishing and will shortly be legislating for.

“This will ensure that we end the cladding scandal in a way that is fair and generous to leaseholders.”

  • ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery explains why some people are unhappy with the announcement

Plans include a £5 billion grant on top of the £1.6 billion safety fund that leaseholders can currently apply to.

On lower and medium-rise blocks of flats, Mr Jenrick said: “The Government will develop a long-term scheme to protect leaseholders in this situation, with financial support for cladding remediation on buildings between four and six storeys.

“Under a long-term low-interest scheme, no leaseholder will ever pay more than £50 a month towards the removal of unsafe cladding, many far less. Taken together this means the Government is providing more than £5 billion including a further £3.5 billion announced today plus the significant cost of the very generous financing scheme which will run for many years to come to ensure all leaseholders in medium and high-rise blocks face no costs or very low costs if cladding remediation is needed."

But Conservative MP Stephen McPartland, a vocal critic of the Government’s handling of the cladding crisis, tweeted: “I am listening to @RobertJenrick’s announcement with my head in my hands. Wondering how he can have got this so wrong.

He added: “It is a betrayal of millions of leaseholders. It is not good enough. It is shocking incompetence. It is clear the PM has to step in now.”

And Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham asked: “How on earth can the Government justify this unfair and divisive move?”

Mr Jenrick’s announcement comes amid growing criticism of the Government’s response to the cladding crisis in the wake of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people.

The fire was sparked by a fault in a fridge-freezer and spread quickly to several floors of the west London tower with the cladding and insulation cited as the cause for the rapid progression of the blaze.

The House of Commons has previously heard how huge numbers of people, especially leaseholders, are “stuck in the middle” and living in “unsafe homes” which they cannot sell, but are being asked to “foot the bill” for remediation works.

People release balloons at the Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic on the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. Credit: PA

Earlier this month, Labour demanded the creation of a national taskforce to “get a grip” on the cladding crisis, with their opposition motion supported by 263 votes to zero.

Residents of buildings with flammable cladding have said it has made their flats “worthless” and they are “trapped” and unable to sell the properties.

At last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson said: “We are determined that no leaseholder should have to pay for the unaffordable costs of fixing safety defects that they didn’t cause and are no fault of their own.”