THE Government has been urged to take action against unsafe cladding UK homes after a Commons vote on Monday, though Conservative MPs did not vote - including those in the North-East. 

MPs voted 263 to zero, majority 263, in support of Labour’s non-binding motion urging the Government to “get a grip” on the cladding crisis and establish a national task force to fully examine the extent of “dangerous” cladding.

It comes years after the Grenfell disaster in 2017, with people still living in unsafe homes. 

The vote was forced by Labour, with the Government whips not getting involved in the division – and Conservative MPs ordered to abstain.

Tory MPs in the North-East argue the Government is already taking action.

Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: "It is of the utmost importance that we find a solution that means leaseholders do not end up paying for problems that they did not cause whilst also being fair to the taxpayer.

"To do that, we need to ensure the building industry pays its fair share so that fairness for owners and tenants is secured.

"The vote in Parliament was unopposed because the Government is already taking decisive action and has, so far, allocated £1.6bn on this issue. As a result, all social blocks are either fixed or are being fixed and a scheme for private apartment blocks is being created as we speak.

"This Government is sorting out this problem once and for all, making sure homes are safe while protecting residents from the cost."

Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar, said: "It is shameful that high-rise buildings in this country were ever fitted with dangerous or unsafe cladding. 

"Successive Governments have failed to confront this issue, but this Government is finally resolving it, making homes safer and protecting the residents from spiralling costs."

Liz Twist, for Blaydon, is the only Labour MP to abstain from the vote.

Ahead of the vote, MPs spoke about the devastation of Grenfell Tower and their drive to protect residents while ensuring the cost of replacing unsafe cladding does not fall on leaseholders' shoulders. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer said it was a “scandal” that tenants and leaseholders were being asked to “foot the bill” for interim safety measures.

Housing minister Christopher Pincher spoke about the “still unimaginable tragedy”, adding the Government was “determined to do our duty by those whose lives were changed forever that night and right the wrongs of the past, to bring about the biggest improvement to building safety within a generation”.

The Government he said was undertaking “decisive action” to “remove unsafe cladding and strengthen the regulations and support leaseholders”.

He added: “We have worked intensively and extensively to ensure that buildings with dangerous cladding are made safe as quickly as possible and backed by £600 million of Government funding, real strides have been made in removing this unsafe ACM cladding.

“Last year, despite the pressures of Covid-19, more high rises with ACM cladding were made safe, either their works were begun or they were made safe than in any previous year, nearly double the number than in the previous year 2019.

“Last month we reached a major milestone. All high-rise social sector buildings have either had their unsafe ACM cladding replaced, or seen the work get underway.”

Housing minister Chris Pincher said the Government is trying to develop a financial solution to protect leaseholders from high costs to deal with unsafe cladding, telling MPs: “There is no quick fix, if there was then we’d have done it long ago.

“It is complex, it involves many parties, leaseholders with different leases, developers, warranty holders, the insurance industry, the mortgage lenders, the owners themselves.

“We have to bring forward a solution that is right and proper, that demands of owners and developers that they put right the problems and defects they cause, that is fair to leaseholders who should not have to carry unfair costs for problems that they didn’t cause or envisage, and that is fair to the taxpayer – who is already shouldering a significant burden in the of many buildings.”

Construction firms which built substandard homes “need to be held to account,” a former cabinet minister said.

Conservative Liam Fox told the Commons: “It cannot be right that all the burden for remediation falls on taxpayers.

“Where the problem arises from regulatory changes made after construction – and assuming that the proper standards were met – then it is reasonable for public money to be used.

“But this in no way absolves the construction industry or NHBC of their responsibilities.”

He added: “Those who built substandard dwellings need to be held to account.”