GMB London calls for government not to ignore the seriousness of the UK’s cladding scandal
GMB Congress backs campaign for decisive government action to remove dangerous claddings from buildings four years after Grenfell Tower disaster
The government must hold itself accountable to ensure the future of these buildings and the people who reside in them are made safe with a programme to remove the unsafe cladding and replaced it with fire-safe materials says GMB London
GMB Congress today, 7th June passed a motion calling for a national GMB campaign to get decisive action from the government to remove cladding posing a serious fire hazard from buildings occupied by hundreds of thousands of residents. See below in notes to editors the text of the motion from the City of London branch of GMB.
The speaker moving the motion made clear that the government has failed on its promise to remove dangerous cladding by June 2020, and in April 2021 passed the Fire Safety Bill without amendments to protect leaseholders living in unsellable and potentially dangerous high-rise homes from financial ruin. The speaker went on to say that in the 4 years since the Grenfell disaster simply not enough has been done to make the many millions of people across the country living in dwellings with Grenfell style Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding, other flammable cladding and materials, and inadequate Fire Safe regulations, safe from the threat of fire.
Shaun Graham, GMB London Region Senior Organiser speaking on the motion at Congress, said:
“Tenants and leaseholders living in buildings that have failed safety inspections have had to find their own money to cover the costs of interim safety measures such as installing “waking watch” services in the absence of fire alarm systems.
“Insurance premiums have soared, and some homeowners are facing potential bankruptcy, with their homes being valued at £0.00, leaving them unable to sell.
“Thousands of people who bought their homes through the government’s Help to Buy and shared ownership schemes are now threatened with bills of up to £100,000 to make their homes safe.
“Concern about fire safety, the financial burden of being forced to pay for the removal of the cladding and being unable to sell the property is in many cases, one or more of the reasons responsible for the escalation of residents’ experiencing a deterioration in their mental health, which can lead to further difficulties for tenants and leaseholders to cope with.
“This is a national scandal that has support from GMB, together with appropriate campaign partners we will work to press the government to listen and take immediate action – no more can the government ignore the seriousness of the UK’s cladding scandal."
GMB calls on the government to take action and commit to a deadline for safe housing for all those affected by homes a risk from fire safety and combustible building materials. Government must respond now with a detailed timeline to rectify the problem. The government must hold itself accountable to ensure the future of these buildings and the people who reside in them are made safe with a programme to remove the unsafe cladding and replaced it with fire-safe materials.
Furthermore, the government must scrap the loan scheme for people in lower buildings and pay the upfront costs of remediation work for all buildings recouping these costs from the building industry, not the tenants and leaseholders who have found themselves in this nightmare of a situation who are facing untenable financial burden or likely bankruptcy.
Contact: Shaun Graham, GMB London Region Senior Officer, 078 8570 6556
Notes to editors
Text of the motion carried by GMB Congress:
236. NATIONAL GMB CAMPAIGN TO END CLADDING SCANDAL
This Congress calls for GMB to set up a National campaign to demand a deadline for creating safe housing without flammable cladding following the Grenfell Fire.
It is 4 years since the Grenfell disaster, and not enough has been done to make the 23,000 households with Grenfell style ACM (Aluminium Composite Material) cladding, and up to 500,000 people living with other non – ACM flammable cladding, safe from fire. The problem is further magnified by COVID 19 and the fact we are being asked to stay in our homes more than ever before.
The government’s new fund for remedial work on high rise blocks to remove flammable cladding, a step forward. However, it’s estimated the fund will only cover ⅓ (a third) of households and it’s offered on a first come first served basis, there is no commitment from government to a deadline for completed works, and it does not cover buildings under 18m.
We call for the Government to commit to a deadline for safe housing for all, provide a detailed timeline, and hold themselves accountable.