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It is an absolute pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Davies. This is an extraordinary issue that is causing terrible problems to many constituents and I am sorry that I will not have the time in this debate to do their cases justice.
I am currently dealing with 31 separate cases, and counting. One of those cases involves representing 57 different constituents in a single block. One local housing provider has told residents they will fund just 20 fire risk assessments a year, in an area where it has more than 100 properties. When I say 100 properties, I do not mean 100 flats—I mean 100 blocks.
In so many cases, my constituents have been left trapped and powerless. Many do not know if their homes are safe. Many have been unable to sell or re-mortgage. Massively expensive retrofitting is often necessary but is not being carried out.
One constituent is living with his young daughter in a one-bed flat. He cannot sell or move somewhere more suitable because his block does not yet have a cladding report. Another constituent split with his partner and cannot re-mortgage to make good that separation. The current mortgage has expired, trapping the couple on a higher rate, and costing an exorbitant extra £450 a month. It is causing severe financial and emotional strain. Another constituent was told it could take five years to provide the cladding report.
Something is desperately and fundamentally wrong with the whole legal structure around the issue, and it is our job in this place to put it right. My speech today has not allowed me long enough to do justice to constituents’ cases; I hope they will forgive me. The Minister can see how many of us there are in this room. She knows the issues. Can she not make some time available for us to be able to debate this in a full-length debate on the Floor of the House?
I have talked about the problems with the practicalities, but my constituents live with the knowledge that the place they are trapped in, which costs them a fortune, might be a death trap. As a child who grew up in a flat in the shadow of Ronan Point, I know the impact of such fear on families. So I want to hear from the Minister today that the Government will intervene strongly to exorcise the spectre of the tragedy of Grenfell that constantly hangs over my constituents’ lives.