HOUSING Secretary Robert Jenrick has been accused of a “betrayal” of hundreds of thousands of leaseholders after he revealed a new £3.5 billion package to end the “cladding scandal”.

In a statement yesterday (February 10), the Housing Secretary said the Government will fund the removal and replacement of unsafe cladding on tower blocks in England more than 59ft (18m), or six storeys.

He added that it will also develop a long-term scheme to ensure that those in lower to middle-rise blocks never have to pay more than £50 a month for cladding removal.

To help meet the costs, he said the Government is imposing a new levy on developers of certain high buildings in England and a £2 billion UK-wide tax on the residential development sector.

READ MORE:Basingstoke apartment block deemed unsafe after combustible material found in cladding

But his announcement drew a furious response, with critics – including some conservatives – warning it fails to address the problems faced by residents living in unsellable flats in unsafe blocks.

Tory MP Stephen McPartland – a prominent critic of the Government’s handling of the cladding crisis – dismissed the plans as “all smoke and mirrors”.

He said Mr Jenrick had ignored the continuing need for “waking watches” and the “excessive” insurance premiums which represent the main costs for many leaseholders.

“I am listening to Robert Jenrick’s announcement with my head in my hands. Wondering how he can have got this so wrong. It is a betrayal of millions of leaseholders,” he tweeted.

The announcement comes after The Gazette revealed Crown Heights apartment block, which has around 250 flats, is covered in similar combustible cladding that fatally wrapped Grenfell Tower.

External cladding at Crown Heights, contains the flammable material 'expanded polystyrene' and features no fire breaks.

It means should there be a blaze, it could engulf the whole building in a similar manner to the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017.

Residents have been left fearing for their safety and unable to sell their properties.

However the Housing Secretary has defended his heavily-criticised plan claiming £50 is a “pretty affordable amount of money” which would mark a “huge step forward” for people who would otherwise be “very, very worried that they are going to have massive, unmanageable costs”.

The Cabinet minister said a balance had to be struck between the interests of leaseholders and the taxpayer – “many of whom are not homeowners at all”.

Asked how many years people would be paying £50 a month, he said: “The idea is that these are long tenure loans, they don’t actually sit with the individual at all, they sit with the building and so they don’t have impact on someone’s credit rating or your own personal finances, they are a bit like a ground rent.”