Full text of the speech:
Thank you Madam Deputy Speaker.
Can I start by associating myself with many of the important contributions already made by honourable Members.
As has been made clear, the Government’s lack of action over the last three and a half years to tackle the building safety crisis has left thousands of leaseholders trapped in unsafe homes, which they are unable to sell or re-mortgage.
Instead, they are being forced to pay enormous sums for remediation and interim fire safety measures such as ‘waking watches’.
The untold impact this is having on people’s lives is deeply concerning. I have heard from countless residents about the stress and anxiety this scandal is causing.
Having bought their homes, some blocks face bills of up to three million pounds for replacing the dangerous cladding, as is the case for my constituents living in Norfolk House in Deptford.
Then there are examples like Aragon Tower, a 160-apartment building also in my constituency. Following extensive testing, the fire break system was found not to be working. When challenged, the developers, Berkley Homes refused to take any responsibility – leaving many residents stuck and unable to sell.
These are sadly not unique examples, as Ministers will keep hearing throughout this debate.
I do want to take this opportunity to praise my local authority – Lewisham Council – and their housing body – Lewisham Homes – for their speedy response to this crisis.
Yet sadly, three and a half years since the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, national government is yet to resolve these issues.
One group I fear is being overlooked in this debate is disabled tenants and leaseholders.
Disabled people caught up in these unsafe blocks face additional barriers. The disabled leaseholder’s group CLADDAG has raised many concerns, from inadequate evacuation plans, to reports of bullying and harassment by stressed residents who resent extra costs of meeting access needs.
This is totally unacceptable. Urgent steps must be taken to ensure disabled people feel safe in their own homes.
The government must get a grip of this scandal and put in the proper resources needed, so that tenants and leaseholders up and down the country are not left in unsafe homes for a minute longer.
It cannot be right that so many people are having sleepless nights because of a problem not of their own making.