Michael Gove set to snub cladding campaigners at Manchester demonstration

Campaigners are calling on the government to ‘end the nightmare’ faced by leaseholders caught up in the cladding crisis

Michael Gove is set to snub victims of the ongoing building safety scandal after being invited to give a speech setting out his plans to resolve the crisis in his new role as housing secretary.

The Manchester Cladiators campaign group is due to hold a demonstration in Manchester on Sunday, calling on the government to “end the nightmare” faced by people all over the UK who are caught up in the crisis.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • Leaseholders and people caught up in the building safety crisis are set to demonstrate in Manchester on the day the Conservative party conference gets underway in the city 
  • Campaigners are calling on the government to act decisively on the issue, which they say disproportionately impacts leaseholders in the north of England
  • The Manchester Cladiators campaign group invited Michael Gove, who was recently appointed Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to address the demonstration or meet up with those impacted over several days while he is in Manchester
  • Bishop of Manchester David Walker, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, and Shadow Housing Secretary Lucy Powell will all speak at the demonstration
  • Many people who purchased leasehold properties which have later been found to have serious fire-safety defects are facing huge remediation costs, with many put at risk of bankruptcy, while those responsible for the faulty works aren’t held liable

What’s been said?

Rebecca Fairclough, co-lead of Manchester Cladiators, said: “As the Conservatives are visiting our city en masse, we are grasping this opportunity to ensure they, particularly Prime Minister Johnson, Chancellor Sunak and Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Gove, are fully aware that government interventions to resolve this crisis to-date will not solve this problem, as has been implicitly acknowledged by the Prime Minister.

“There is still no end to this nightmare in site for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people across the United Kingdom, with the devastating impact of this crisis disproportionately hitting leaseholders in the northern regions.

“Successive Ministers and Prime Ministers have spoken warmly of protecting the victims of this crisis; however, this has not yet been followed up with sufficient firm action. We call on Mr Gove to fulfil the Prime Minister’s regularly stated goal of levelling us up before it is too late for innocent homeowners.’

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said: “We are making sure everyone is safe in their homes. The new Secretary of State is looking closely at this issue to ensure everything is being done to support leaseholders.”

Background

Many leaseholders who live in homes that have been deemed unsafe under regulations enforced since the Grenfell tragedy are facing massive bills for remediation works to put right the fire-safety defects.

The cost is falling on leaseholders, who do not own the buildings or commission the works, rather than the freeholders or developers who are responsible for the faulty work.

The government has consistently claimed it will not allow the costs to fall on innocent leaseholders, but has also failed to introduce legislation which would help the vast majority of those affected.

In Greater Manchester, leaseholders have been quoted more than £100,000 in some instances for remediation works which are no fault of their own.

Giles Grover of Manchester Cladiators said: “During the Fire Safety Bill ping pong earlier this year, Ministers kept saying the Building Safety Bill would be where this issue was addressed.

“However, this has turned out to not be the case now the Building Safety Bill has been laid before Parliament and we see this as a betrayal of the promises that were made - we are aware that a number of Conservative MPs share our view and we are asking MPs across the United Kingdom to stand up for fairness now before our lives are completely destroyed.”

“In the meantime, many are facing increased insurance premiums as well as additional costs for building surveys and waking watches; 24/7 security guards who patrol the building to make sure there are no fires.“