This week the fire safety bill passed into law despite Liberal Democrat attempts to persuade the Conservative Government to fix the bill or let it fall and introduce a better version in the next Queen’s speech.
Buildings with unsafe cladding and fire safety defects are affecting thousands of people across the country, including hundreds right here in St Albans. Daisy Cooper, MP for St Albans, has been speaking up for the victims of what she called “a national scandal of epic proportions” on BBC’s Question Time.
Last year, Daisy joined the fire safety bill committee – the cross-party group of MPs scrutinising the Government’s proposed new laws – after meeting with local residents who discovered their homes were not fire-safe.
She tabled an amendment to the bill that introduced the principle that no leaseholder or tenant should have to pay for fire safety defects not of their making. Her amendment was further refined as it went through the legislative process called ‘ping-pong’, as the House of Commons and the House of Lords pass drafting back and forth between each other. The Bishop of St Albans tabled a version of the amendment in the Lords.
Now that the bill has passed without the amendment, thousands of homeowners could receive even more extortionate bills – perhaps within a matter of days.
Daisy Cooper MP said: “Nearly four years on from the Grenfell tragedy and millions of homeowners, including hundreds of residents in St Albans, are still living in death traps, facing exorbitant costs to fix the fire safety defects. Some have declared bankruptcy. Some are homeless. Tens of thousands are struggling with their mental health.
“Boris Johnson promised that ‘No leaseholder should have to pay for the unaffordable costs of fixing safety defects’ – yet this is another promise broken.
“The Government has had 10 whole months to break the deadlock and propose a solution that they find acceptable but they have refused to compromise. My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I have stood up for leaseholders from start to finish against the impacts of this defective bill, and we will continue to do so as the fire safety crisis continues to unfold.
“We’ve given the Conservatives many opportunities to put right this wrong, but they have turned their back on those who are dealing with the devastating consequences of the cladding crisis. Leaseholders themselves said they would rather that this bill fell and didn’t pass into law without vital financial protections, but the Conservative Government just refused to listen. The Government’s handling of this crisis is a national scandal of epic proportions.”
Daisy is supporting the national Cladding Action Group, which is calling on the Government to cover the costs up-front so as to make millions of homes fire-safe as quickly as possible, then to set up a scheme to claw the money back from those responsible, including developers.”