"Peoples lives have been put on hold": Leeds MP calls for more government action following fresh building cladding announcement

A Leeds MP has called on the Government to do more to help as Westminster make fresh building cladding announcement.

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 4:45 am

MP Hilary Benn made the call in an exclusive interview with the YEP.

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"Peoples lives have been put on hold, mental health distress is acute. Every morning lease holders wake up and the first thing they remember is 'oh my goodness, I'm still living in an unsafe building that is worthless'." Mr Benn said.

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The Government have said they would not hesitate to introduce a developers tax to hit those responsible for dangerous cladding. Picture: Simon Hulme.

It comes after the Government revealed they would not hesitate to introduce a developers tax to hit those responsible for dangerous cladding if firms do not voluntarily step up to fix safety defects.

The Government's Housing and Communities Secretary Michael Gove said it was time that the "the big bucks, the big profits" act to remedy the fire safety risks, as he announced developers must agree a £4bn plan to fix dangerous cladding on low-rise flats by early March or risk new laws forcing them to act.

Leaseholders in buildings between 11m (36ft) and 18m (59ft) tall will also no longer have to take out loans to cover the costs of remediation work but Mr Benn feels while a positive step it isn't enough.

The issue of unsafe cladding has been a massive talking point across British politics since the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in London, in 2017, which claimed the lives of 72 pople.

For Mr Benn it isn't enough to just sort the outside with resulting inspections discovering many unsafe features inside too.

"Surveyors not only found dangerous cladding but also missing fire breaks, flammable insulation inside the building and these were failures of construction, contrary to the building legislations at the time." he explained "Lease holders should be no more responsible for those things then they are for the flammable cladding on the outside of the building."

For Leeds resident Rachael Loftus who turned cladding campaigner after finding herself in unsafe housing the latest government still isn't nearly enough.

"At the moment we are being told that the six things we would need to do to our building to make it safe and only three of those would currently be funded." she explained "If the Government continue with that narrow definition of cladding then it is only half good news. My share of the bill at the moment is £112,000."

Rachael further expressed her frustration that builders are making a profit from a scenario they themselves caused.

"It's a large amount of money that's going back into the building industry." she said "They are coming in and being paid to put this work right but nobody is doing this work at cost, they are all coming in and making a profit."

For MP Hilary Benn the problem will not be solved until all those affected can sleep soundly once again.

"They long for the day when they can wake up one morning and get on with the rest of their lives because what they thought was the home of their dreams is going to be a safe home, that they can stay in and is worth something" he said.

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