Building Safety

Bob Blackman Excerpts
Tuesday 26th March 2024

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lee Rowley Portrait Lee Rowley
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I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for highlighting this issue, and I am also grateful for the meeting that he arranged with the representative of the leaseholders and the time that he gave for us to go through it. It is very useful to work through individual cases: although they are often the trickiest, the knottiest and the most challenging, it is important for us to understand the policy implications.

Let me say to the right hon. Gentleman—without going into the details of the individual property, which I should be happy to discuss with him separately—that in general we seek to be as transparent as we possibly can, hence the publication of some of the additional data today. We remain committed to making progress on both individual buildings and properties as a whole, and I hope that both the property and the developer that the right hon. Gentleman has highlighted will make progress as soon as possible.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)
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I thank my hon. Friend for his update, but it appears from his statement that there are still two tall buildings with ACM cladding on which no work is going on and on which the Government have taken no action; I should be grateful if he could clarify that. Another issue that arises directly from his statement is that there are now 4,000 homes between 11 and 18 metres high whose residents will probably not be able to get a mortgage, insure their properties or sell them. Will he speed up the process of assessing those blocks so that the residents can feel safe, and if work is required on them will he ensure that it is carried out speedily, so that homes are made safe for the residents and for whoever they sell them to?

Lee Rowley Portrait Lee Rowley
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I am grateful for the question. On my hon. Friend’s first point, there are 11 buildings that have not started or finished their ACM remediation. One is not occupied. Of the remaining 10, work will commence on two in the next few weeks. Eight buildings will be remediated at a further date, and the remaining two have enforcement action being taken by the relevant authorities. Although I would like the number to go down to zero at the earliest possible opportunity, the situation is better than it was when we provided the update in October, and I expect the number to continue to move on a positive trajectory in the months and weeks ahead.

On my hon. Friend’s point about the 4,000 buildings that are being reviewed, we provided a further 1,000 potential leads to Homes England, which is leading on the cladding safety scheme, a number of months ago. A significant number were found to not require any remediation. Although I cannot comment on where the 4,000 will land, it is likely that a large number of them will not require remediation in the end, so I encourage residents not to worry about the number, but to see what comes out of the process.

Since December 2022, we have also taken action to make sure that we are starting to separate the need for remediation on properties from people’s ability to get on with their lives. The mortgage sector has been freed up to allow people to take mortgages, to remortgage and to move properties when big life events happen, and we hope that that will continue. I am monitoring, on a month-by-month basis, the large banks and building societies that are providing mortgages, and I can see that progress is being made.