Three years on from the Grenfell tragedy, and there are still an estimated 11 million people around the country living in buildings covered in dangerous flammable cladding.
Leaseholders who own flats in these buildings have faced an incredible ordeal in recent years. Many have been left with houses they cannot sell and cannot afford to move out of, knowing that a wholly ordinary kitchen accident – like most of the 100 or so fires that happen every day in the UK – might result in a deadly fire.
Moreover, they face enormous costs in the form of insurance premiums, estate management charges, and interim safety measures like waking watch fire patrols. Those that cannot afford to pay, face bankruptcy and homelessness. The longer this crisis continues, the greater the cost.
Finally, to add insult to injury, leaseholders face the prospect of having to pay to fix their buildings despite bearing no responsibility whatsoever for covering them in unsafe materials. One block of apartments in Edgbaston will cost 13.8 million pounds to fix — £40,000 per flat.
On Monday, the Labour Party forced a vote on a motion calling for major action to fix the cladding crisis. As well as asking for upfront funding so that cladding remediation work can begin immediately, the motion also moved to protect leaseholders from the cost of this work and to pursue those developers and builders responsible. This was voted through by 263-0. The Conservatives didn’t even show up.
I have been clear from the beginning, that ordinary people should not be forced to pay the cost of a crisis they didn’t create. In the coming months, my Party will seek to amend the Fire Safety Bill to put protections for leaseholders into law.
Coronavirus has had an appalling impact on Birmingham’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, with Black and South Asian people more than twice as likely to die from coronavirus.
This week I joined up with other South Asian MPs of all political persuasions, to urge everyone to get the Covid-19 vaccine when it is their turn. We may disagree on many things, but on the importance of getting vaccinated we are united.
There were 75,000 people in the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax and J&J trials who received a Covid vaccine, and none of them died from Covid.
We know the vaccine is safe. We know it will protect our loved ones. And we know it will eventually help us end lockdown and ease back to something like normal life.
I urge all of my constituents, no matter where they live or what community they are from, to get the vaccine as soon as they are offered it.
Students have been dealt a raw deal during the pandemic. Last month, with the new lockdown, many students were told by the Government to stay at home rather than return to campuses, putting those paying for accommodation in a difficult position.
While the University of Birmingham offered a rebate to students renting university-operated accommodation, many students in the private rental sector have been left paying for flats that it is illegal for them to use. With many of the key sectors students rely on for work closed during the lockdown, the financial impact of this policy has been serious for many young people.
This week I joined with the University of Birmingham Guild of Students to ask landlords to work with students struggling with their rent. We pushed for flexibility with rent demands, including longer payment schedules and early breaks from contracts in the worst cases.
If you are a student and are experiencing problems with your landlord and need support, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me by emailing email@example.com.