Huge congratulations to Simon Lightwood, Labour’s new MP for Wakefield. Following the by-election this week, the Labour Party re-took the seat back from the Tories in what is a clear judgement on a Conservative Party that has run out of energy and ideas.
This week, just one week after the five-year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, I led a Westminster Hall debate in the House of Commons highlighting the ongoing financial impacts of building safety remediation on leaseholders. Leaseholders in Ladywood are still living in unsafe buildings and paying extortionate bills for remediation and sky-high insurance costs.
During my speech, I made specific reference to the Islington Gates development in the Jewellery Quarter, where leaseholders have suffered significant delays to the Building Safety Fund and received no funding from developers. The Minister for Housing, Stuart Andrew MP admitted that the Government recognise “that the situation is unjust and unfair for leaseholders living in Islington Gates.” He also reaffirmed that developers should be taking responsibility for not old buildings they have developed but also those developed by companies in their corporate group, suggesting that Islington Gates could be an early test case for the aspects of the Building Safety Act – such as the new Recovery Unit and Remediation Orders – designed to force developers into doing the right thing.
The cooperative tone and his willing to work with me and our leaseholders is welcome, but I will keep pushing the Government to do more and act faster. You can watch the debate in full here: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/9c1c3549-e109-4760-89a5-d54218c71b52?in=16:00:10
I also used the debate as an opportunity to highlight eye watering sums people are being asked to pay for buildings insurance. Leaseholders in Ladywood have seen their premiums jump by over 1000% over the last few years, with final premiums costing over £500,000. These premiums are not coming down and the hikes are not taking account of the measures that leaseholders have taken to reduce the risk in their buildings. In each building, hundreds of thousands of pounds has been spent on state-of-the-art alarm systems and other measures, such as waking watches, to bring down the risk of a catastrophic fire. None of that was reflected in the insurance premium. The more residents have paid for risk mitigation, the more their insurance premium has gone up. It would have made no difference whether they had done those works or not. I think that that is a total con.
I have been campaigning on this issue for more than two years now and only in January of this year did the Government finally ask the FCA – the insurance industry’s regulator – to investigate. But this problem requires much more than a slow paced inquiry so I pushed the Government during the debate to take action faster. I also wrote to the FCA again to stress the need for action as quickly as possible because many constituents are in need of immediate assistance.
Finally, I wanted to highlight that next Friday (1st July) a Jobs Fair will be taking place at Villa Park Stadium from 10am-1pm. Make sure you head down to learn about the hundreds of opportunities available across a wide range of sectors, right here in our fantastic city.
Have a great weekend, everyone.