On 28 April, the government voted to pass the Fire Safety Bill with no amendments. This means that leaseholders will continue to be responsible for covering the costs of historic fire safety hazards. The Bill proposes to improve fire safety regulations after the Grenfell Tower tragedy killed 72 residents in 2017. Although the House of Lords attempted to ensure leaseholders will be protected from fire safety costs, MPs voted that this should not be the government’s responsibility.
According to the BBC:
Thousands of leaseholders are currently facing large bills to pay for safety measures, including fire breaks, new balconies, safer doors and sprinkler systems.
A national ‘scandal’
Reflecting on the ‘disgraceful’ news, shadow justice secretary David Lammy shared:
It’s a scandal that four years after 72 people died at Grenfell, so many are still going to bed in buildings wrapped in flammable cladding. It is beyond a disgrace that @BorisJohnson is breaking another promise by forcing leaseholders to pick up the bill. https://t.co/orwmKPyw88
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 29, 2021
Condemning the Tory government, MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy said:
Last week, the PM’s longest-serving aide quietly left his role after the disclosure that he was on the payroll of 2 property developers.
This week, the Tories voted to leave thousands of leaseholders paying to fix the cladding scandal.
We know who this Government works for.
— Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP (@BellRibeiroAddy) April 27, 2021
Justice 4 Grenfell simply said:
No shame !! https://t.co/TH7vBkAuvP
— Justice4Grenfell (@officialJ4G) April 28, 2021
Expressing solidarity with cladding victims, rapper Lowkey said:
Grenfell revealed that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people are in desperately unsafe homes in this country.
Leaseholders in those buildings are being bullied to pay money they don’t have to fix threats to their life caused by a deregulated construction industry.
— Lowkey (@Lowkey0nline) April 29, 2021
Expressing disbelief at the situation, he added:
If we were told, the day after Grenfell, that 4 years later the same council would be sticking combustible insulation in a primary school + thousands of leaseholders would be forced into bankruptcy because their homes are wrapped in similar stuff, we probably wouldn’t believe it.
— Lowkey (@Lowkey0nline) April 29, 2021
Leaseholders facing ‘bankruptcy’
Explaining what the proposed Fire Safety Bill might mean for the UK, Claus Vistesen said:
The @Conservatives gvt has today, with the passing of the #firesafteybill, opened Pandora’s Box on the U.K. property market and economy. This is a move that will go down as one of the most spectacular political and economic own goals in this country’s modern history, #timestamp
— Claus Vistesen (@ClausVistesen) April 28, 2021
Stephen Mackenzie added:
Grenfell: Fire safety bill to become law – BBC News https://t.co/SOSiNuYysV
— Stephen Mackenzie (@SteveMcfirerisk) April 29, 2021
Underlining the fact that most leaseholders are not able to cover expensive fire safety costs, another commentator stated that ‘buildings will remain unsafe’, increasing the potential for another tragedy:
And the really stupid thing, the obvious but ignored thing, is that the remedial works won’t be done because leaseholders can’t pay. Not won’t pay, can’t pay. This is upshot of the govt’s ludicrously short sighted position. Buildings will remain unsafe.
— Nearly Legal (@nearlylegal) April 28, 2021
Cladding victims speak out
Saying that he feels “utterly let down”, William Martin tweeted:
I feel so utterly let down by my Government.
No Bill, is better than a bad Bill.
— William Martin (@willmartin88) April 28, 2021
Expressing her fear of financial ruin as a result of the Fire Safety Bill, Jen shared:
This is me exactly 2 years ago, proudest day of my life, the day I bought my first home.
Today I got to mark 2 years in my first home by watching 320 Tory MPs vote to force me into paying ruinous bills to fix defects installed when I was 11 years old ??♀️#FireSafetyBill pic.twitter.com/8ydeauJH5R
— Jen – Sheff Cladding Victim (@CladVictimJen) April 27, 2021
Steph Pike said:
I’m lost for words.
I, along with 1000s of other leaseholders, feel broken, exhausted, angry and totally devastated by the outcome of tonight ?
There will be a lot of tears but tomorrow we get back up and fight on.
Thank you to those who support us ??#EndOurCladdingScandal
— Steph Pike (@stephpike_) April 28, 2021
The Leeds Cladding Scandal campaign group tweeted:
We feel completely let down and betrayed. The fire safety bill has passed without any amendment to protect leaseholders from unaffordable, unfair costs.
— Leeds Cladding Scandal (@LeedsCladding) April 29, 2021
And the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign group shared:
Yet again government has voted to punish leaseholders – also known as “taxpayers” and “voters” – for regulatory failings and dodgy developers who they allowed to prioritise profits over safety.
We have the right to be angry. But the fight isn’t over yet.https://t.co/z69LSXk1kO
— End Our Cladding Scandal (@EOCS_Official) April 29, 2021
The fight is not over
Encouraging cladding leaseholders and campaigners to “keep going”, Inside Housing deputy editor Peter Apps said:
So keep going. This remains a battle about pressure: making not acting more uncomfortable for ministers than acting. It’s one you are pushing for on behalf of all of us.
— Peter Apps (@PeteApps) April 29, 2021
Lawyer and leaseholder Liam Spender added:
#FireSafetyBill there will be other opportunities to press the government into protecting leaseholders.
One glimmer of hope is that under the new law there will be a much more sophisticated system for assessing fire risk than the current EWS1
— Liam Spender (@LiamSpender) April 28, 2021
Confirming that they “will keep fighting”, End Our Cladding Scandal tweeted:
To quote Baroness @KathPinnock, the Cladding Scandal comes down, fundamentally, to a simple question of justice.
We will keep fighting until we get it.
— End Our Cladding Scandal (@EOCS_Official) April 28, 2021
While campaigners prepare to challenge the government’s decision to pass fire safety costs on to leaseholders, thousands continue to live in unsafe properties. Their only options at present are to run the risk of another high-rise fire or to face bankruptcy.
Featured image via the blowup/Unsplash