Calls for taskforce to tackle cladding crisis in the capital 

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The Mayor of London has been urged to set up a taskforce to tackle the cladding crisis in London as thousands remain trapped in unsafe homes.

In its final act of the current mayoral term, the London Assembly’s fire, resilience and emergency planning (FREP) committee has published a five-point plan calling on both the mayor and the Government to step in and help remove the financial burden on leaseholders.

Last month, the Government announced a further £3.5 billion of funding which FREP committee chairman Andrew Dismore said “doesn’t go far enough” as it only covered the removal of cladding from buildings above 18 metres in height.

Now, the committee is calling for all fire safety defects, not just cladding, to be addressed at no cost to leaseholders, with a dedicated taskforce in place to hear from those stuck in unsafe homes.

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Mr Dismore said: “To expect people to fork out thousands of pounds to pay for cladding and other fire defects after they purchased a property in good faith is completely unacceptable.

“No one could ever imagine, months or years after buying a home, receiving a letter through their door demanding thousands of pounds to fix a problem to do with how their building was built. So many Londoners having to pay for a hidden ticking timebomb across the capital is utterly unjust, unreasonable and unwarranted.

“Both the Government and the Mayor must do more to protect the thousands of people living in this fire safety nightmare. London and the rest of the country is only at the tip of the cladding iceberg when discovering the number of people impacted by the fire safety issues exposed by the Grenfell tragedy.

“As the property market starts to fully reopen after Covid-19, there needs to be a much clearer picture of the true numbers affected and the Government and the Mayor must be ready to step in and protect homeowners.”

An earlier report from the committee found that there were around 590 high-rise buildings across London that required temporary fire safety measures such as waking watches, which cost Londoners £16,000 per hour on average.

One of the committee’s recommendations is that the mayor work with councils across London and the London Fire Commissioner to carry out a full audit to determine how many buildings in London need to have cladding removed.

There are also calls for a change to rules that require those in shared ownership homes to cover the full cost of removing cladding despite only owning a percentage of the property.

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