The Fire Cladding Scandal: More Than A Million in Peril Need Your Solidarity

6th May 2021
by John Urquhart, Party general secretary

A residential tower block in Sheffield has some of its exterior panels removed with the cladding exposed for inspection following the Grenfall Tower fire, July 2017.
A building in Sheffield with cladding exposed.
Source: User:DrStrauss, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“Stressed”. “Anxious”. “Terrified”.

People having to “cut back on food” and “cut back on electricity”, and unable to take time away from work to spend time with their children. Thousands of pounds of costs already incurred for residents – through no fault of their own.

What’s behind all of this?

The Fire Safety Bill – putting the burden of costs on the people least positioned to afford them, and least responsible for the existence of the costs in the first place.

This staggering failure of leadership by the State is because those in Government have sought to minimise the risk of those most to blame for the Grenfell tragedy; instead, the Conservatives are yet again targeting those with the least ability to defend themselves. It is no surprise for them to choose the path of least resistance but maximum cruelty.

It is surely clear that those who made unsafe decisions with relation to fire safety in their buildings, putting residents at risk, are those who should bear the brunt of that poor (and unethically selfish) decision-making.

But that is not what is happening.

Instead, residents across the country face soaring costs dumped on them for no reason other than where they live.

This will lead to homelessness, to bankruptcy, and to other, harder to quantify hardships and harms for many – lost friendships, missed opportunities, stress, and ill-health to name at least a few possibilities that can arise from financial hardship of this magnitude.

For more than a million leaseholders face bills for fire safety modifications through no fault of their own.

This comes after a ten month struggle for compromise with a Government which has had no interest in compromise whatsoever. Frankly, there should be no compromise with the Government: leaseholders should not face costs for risks taken by other people.

Those responsible for poor decisions relating to fire safety should bear at the very least the financial risk they took in doing so – not the people who bear the physical risk of fire as a result of those decisions.

That’s a double-whammy that nobody should have to face.

Please sign this petition and demand that the Government ensure that leaseholders do not bear the brunt of other people’s terrible and dangerous decisions. We all remember Grenfell. We all remember the depth of sorrow. We must not only say “never again” – but ensure the cost of making sure that it never happens again falls on those most responsible for ensuring it doesn’t.