THE government has been urged to exempt remedial works to remove cladding from high-rise buildings from VAT in the wake of the fires at Grenfell Tower and The Cube.

The plea was made in Parliament by Bolton South-East MP Yasmin Qureshi.

The Labour front-bencher spoke in a debate on the initial report into the blaze at London’s Grenfell Tower in June 2017 which killed 72.

Ms Qureshi told ministers: “I also want to talk about something that happened in my constituency. On November 16 last year, a devastating fire at The Cube — student flats in my constituency — left 200 University of Bolton students homeless.

“It is clear that the building regulatory system is broken, and has failed the residents of Grenfell, The Cube and other buildings.

“The Government have focused on the ACM cladding used at Grenfell, but The Cube was clad in high-pressure laminate, which is used on thousands of other buildings across the country. The Government have been warned repeatedly by the Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force - whose representatives I met last week - that the risks extend beyond ACM cladding, but not all cladding systems have yet been tested.

“The Government must recognise that other cladding materials also present a risk, and that all buildings should be made safe as soon as possible.

“I was particularly surprised to learn that VAT is being charged on remedial works, and I urge the Government to exempt them in order to help building owners to carry out works in a timely manner.”

Fire service minister Kit Malthouse said: “We are committed to driving forward the work needed to effect real change. The report and its recommendations have implications for all fire and rescue services.”