Cladding Crisis Not Over Says Fleur Andersen

Putney MP warns leaseholders in 25 developments across her constituency

Fleur Anderson at a protest about the cladding scandal
Fleur Anderson at a protest about the cladding scandal



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Putney’s MP Fleur Anderson has given a cautious response to the recent government announcement over the funding of unsafe cladding.

Over 25 buildings in her constituency are affected by the issue and she is warning them that the new concessions do not necessarily mean the crisis was over.

The new policy was announced after widespread lobbying on leaseholders behalf, some of whom faced financial ruin due to the requirement to make safe buildings even though they were not responsible for the deficiencies.

Ms Anderson questioned the Minister responsible, Michael Gove, in Parliament on Monday (10 January) and has secured an adjournment debate in Parliament next Friday on Building safety and the impact of unsafe cladding in Putney and Southfields to put those issues directly to the Minister.

The Government has property developers ‘on notice’ that it expects developers to pay for cladding remediation work under the threat of imposing a solution upon them through law. This applies to buildings above eleven metres. They also announced that there would be a new £27 million fund for fire alarms to replace the need for the costly waking watch

According to Labour analysis of figures from the New Build Database, a national record of issues that affect homeowners, as many as 4.6 million properties could be affected by the cladding crisis. It has been almost five years since the Grenfell fire, where 72 people lost their lives. Laws and regulations introduced to ensure that dangerous cladding is identified and removed have instead left many homes unsellable. Leaseholders are being forced to pay tens of thousands of pounds to fix the issues.

Fleur Anderson said, “I welcome many aspects of the announcement. They echo much of what the Labour party and I have been calling for over the past two years.

“In particular, I welcome yet another statement from the Minister affirming that it is ‘morally wrong’ that leaseholders are footing the bill and that they will pursue statutory protections. At last, the Government agrees that the ‘polluter pays’ principle should apply to this scandal.

“I am also pleased that the ill-thought-out loan scheme proposed by Mr Gove’s predecessor for blocks under 18 metres has been scrapped and that he will be taking steps to speed up the onerously slow Building Safety Fund.

"However, there are still five or six glaring holes in this announcement. For instance what can the Government do if the developers don't voluntarily cough up the cash? What about non-cladding related fire defects? And will lenders and insurers hold up their side of the agreement? I hope this is not another false dawn."

Ms Anderson is also concern about the lack of a deadline for the measures and believes that legislating on the matter is the only option.

The Chief Secretary for the Treasury has told Michael Gove in a letter over the weekend that any decision to raise taxes on developers is a decision for him and is “not a given at this point”, and that no more public funds will be available. Developers therefore may see the announcement as a hollow threat.

The Putney MP also points out that there has also been no announcement on non-cladding defects, no concrete measures on tackling insurers who have been profiteering from the crisis, and no suggestion of what to do in cases where development companies no longer exist.

Finally, the announcement contained nothing on buildings below eleven metres. That will be of grave concern for residents of Mill Court in Southfields, whose building falls just under that height. They have been saddled with the cost of remediation works coming to £1 million.

Residents of Mill Court said, “We welcome Monday’s announcement as a first step on the road to finally getting to grips with the Building Safety Crisis. But we are alarmed that there is no protection for the many buildings below 11 metres, like Mill Court, that are facing costly and, in most cases, unnecessary remediation bills.

“The arbitrary height limit needs to be removed so that all leaseholders are protected from being forced to pay for fire safety problems that are not of their making. If ministers have agreed it is morally wrong for any leaseholders to be hit with remediation costs, why is it morally ok below 11 metres?

Fleur Anderson added, “My first question to Michael Gove upon hearing the announcement was 'what about buildings below 11 metres?'.

“The residents of Mill Court have been left in exactly the same position they were in before the announcement, so it wouldn’t have done much to alleviate their worries.

“It has been a long fight and it is encouraging that we are finally making some progress, but residents need something more concrete, and they need it soon.

“I remain sceptical, and I will continue press the Government on behalf of everyone suffering through unimaginable worry and heartache after working hard to buy their homes. I have secured an adjournment debate in Parliament next Friday on Building safety and the impact of unsafe cladding in Putney where I will be able to put the concerns of local leaseholder directly to the Minister.”

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January 14, 2022

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