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Labour calls on Tory MPs to vote for Fire Safety Bill amendment

LABOUR is calling on scores of Tory MPs to vote today for a Fire Safety Bill amendment to protect their constituents from the high costs of cladding removal and fire safety measures.

The party has written to 77 Tory MPs who represent about 100,000 people in total who are living in flats with flammable cladding and safety defects.

About 400,000 people are living in blocks over 18 metres high that are still covered in dangerous cladding almost four years since the Grenfell Tower blaze that killed 72 people.

In February, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced funding for removing the cladding.

But the grants do not cover buildings below 18m. Instead leaseholders of flats in lower-rise blocks will be forced to repay costs via a loan scheme.

Many residents are also having to pay for costly safety measures such as 24/7 fire patrol.

Tory ministers have promised in the Commons at least 17 times that leaseholders would not be forced to pay to fix fire safety problems that were not their fault, according to Labour.

Last week, the Lords voted 326 to 248 in favour of preventing costs of any remedial work required under a Fire Safety Order from being passed onto leaseholders or tenants.

Thirty-eight Tory MPs had signed a similar amendment to protect leaseholders from costs when the Bill was last in the Commons. But six of the MPs later removed their names, and none of the 38 MPs voted for the amendment, according to Labour.

The six that removed their names were Richard Graham (Gloucester), Derek Thomas (St Ives), Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes), Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire), Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle) and Nick Fletcher (Don Valley).

Labour’s shadow housing secretary Thangam Debbonaire said: “Across the country, Conservatives’ constituents living in these flats will be rightly angry as their MPs are not speaking up for them.

“I’m calling on all MPs, whatever their political party, to speak up for their constituents and vote to protect leaseholders from these outrageous costs.”

Labour has called for a new national cladding taskforce, which should have aims such as providing immediate up-front funding for cladding removal and fire safety remediation by a legally enforceable deadline of 2022 and protecting taxpayers by “pursuing those responsible for the cladding scandal for costs.”

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