Labour: Councils should take over private high-rises if cladding not removed

Owners of high-rise buildings with Grenfell-style cladding should face having their blocks seized by councils if the material is not replaced by the end of the year, Labour has said.

The latest figures showed 164 high-rise private blocks had still not had aluminium composite material (ACM) replaced, and 70 had no firm plan in place to address the issue.

Labour said thousands of residents may not know their home is unsafe and called for owners of tower blocks with risky cladding to be named and shamed.

The Opposition also called for:

– A December deadline for block owners to get work done, or prove there has been substantial progress;

– Powers under the Housing Act 2004 to be updated to include fines followed by confiscation of blocks that still have dangerous cladding;

– Make Government funding available to councils who take over private blocks with dangerous cladding;

– The Government-sponsored testing regime to comprehensively test non-ACM as well as ACM cladding, including on private blocks.

Tower block fire in London
Tower block fire in London

Shadow housing secretary John Healey said: “Many private tower block owners have shown zero sign of replacing their Grenfell-style cladding, and Government ministers are letting them drag their feet.

“Two years on from the Grenfell Tower fire, concerned residents are still living in homes that may not be safe and many are having to pay for interim safety measures such as 24-hour fire wardens.

“Enough is enough. Private block owners should be made to replace this dangerous cladding, or face councils taking over ownership of these buildings to get this vital safety work done.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “There is nothing more important than making sure people are safe in their homes.

“That is why we have committed to fully funding the replacement of unsafe ACM cladding on high-rise private residential buildings so residents can feel confident they are secure in their homes.

“We have been clear that there are no more excuses and we expect these buildings to be remediated as quickly as possible.

“We are backing local authorities to take enforcement action where building owners are refusing to act.”