It emerged this week that a number of parties were hosted at 10 Downing Street during various Covid-19 lockdowns. During Prime Minister’s Questions, the Prime Minister was finally forced to admit that he attended one of these parties. It is ridiculous that the Prime Minister seems to suggest he had no idea he was at a party. He has had ample opportunity to be straight with the British public. He is now taking us all for fools. It is shameful to hide behind an internal probe, spokespeople or civil servants. It is time for him to really take responsibility. Whilst the people of Birmingham suffered unimaginable loneliness, hurt and grief during the pandemic, the Prime Minister partied. It is insulting and offensive. The Labour Party will continue to call on the Prime Minister to do the decent thing and resign.
This week, the Government announced that it will require the developers responsible for dangerous defects and cladding to pay for remediation – rather than dumping the significant costs on the innocent leaseholders, as has been its previous policy. I welcome the decision to prohibit developers who are not paying their share from procurement and planning processes – something I and others have long been campaigning for. But these proposals do nothing to support those living with non-cladding defects, nor will it fix the long-term problem of soaring insurance costs that innocent leaseholders simply cannot afford. It is completely unacceptable that it has taken nearly five years to get to this point, but I’m hoping that after many false starts from this Government, the measures will stand-up to scrutiny.
Following the announcement, I conducted a snap survey of the leaseholders affected by the cladding scandal in Ladywood to understand their reaction. Even after the announcement, 90% of leaseholders in Ladywood think the Government is handing the scandal badly and over 80% said the announcement would do nothing to alleviate the financial pressures they are experiencing. The Government must now set out a detailed plan for making developers pay as well as crystal clear legal protections for leaseholders through the Building Safety Bill, which returns to Parliament next week.
This week, Labour pointed to the Government’s failure to make more homes warm and well-insulated, and failure to properly regulate our energy market, leading to dozens of energy companies going bust. The result is rapidly rising prices and an energy crisis hitting millions, including many Birmingham Ladywood. To address the immediate crisis, Labour would bring in fully-funded measures now to reduce the expected price rise in April – saving most households around £200 or more. It would also provide targeted extra support with squeezed middle, pensioners and the lowest earners receiving up to £600 off bills.
Our city suffered a huge loss last week. Jack Dromey MP was a force of nature that served the people of Erdington and our city so well for more than a decade. Jack was always such a good friend and supportive colleague to me. He was truly inspiring. His energy and enthusiasm for Erdington was limitless – every day working and campaigning to get the best for the people he represented. He will be missed by all who knew him.