I have since been in discussions with Labour’s Housing team on the Fire Safety Bill and associated amendments and which amendments will be discussed are still in negotiation.
The Government’s handling of this issue has lacked any sense of grip or urgency. We have deep concerns that people are being put at risk, trapped in flammable buildings for a third lockdown, with leaseholders placed in an impossible position.
Ministers have promised on at least 15 occasions that cladding costs would not be passed on to leaseholders, yet for years they have failed to deliver.
Labour will work to amend the Fire Safety Bill, to hold the Government to account for this promise and help ensure leaseholders are protected from unfair fire safety costs, and look to support other amendments which help achieve this goal.
The amendment tabled by McPartland and Smith provides welcome clarity on the specific costs that would be prevented from being passed on to leaseholders, and has been signed by 27 Conservative MPs, but Labour has sought to go further.
As currently drafted, the McPartland and Smith amendment would not have covered blocks like Grenfell – where flammable cladding has been added at some stage following the building of the block. It only applies to defects in the original design of buildings.
The Grenfell Tower was built in the 1970s, but the flammable cladding was added in 2017. Our amendment would ensure that the cost of fire safety problems from refurbishment jobs, like the cladding on the Grenfell tower, cannot be passed on to leaseholders.
Labour’s amendments also include new clauses so that the Bill protects leaseholders from the day it comes into law, instead of an unknown date in the future.
And Labour’s amendments ensure that if the Fire Safety Order is extended in the future, the Secretary of State must publish an analysis of the financial implications for leaseholders.