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Leaseholders: Fire Safety Costs

Volume 687: debated on Monday 11 January 2021

What steps he is taking to support leaseholders with high costs of interim fire safety measures pending permanent remediation. (910654)

In beginning, may I wish you, Mr Speaker, all Members of the House and its staff, and, of course, my right hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes) a very happy new year?

We have announced a new £30 million fund to help end the scandal of excessive waking watch costs. This will fund the installation of alarm systems in buildings with unsafe cladding, reducing or removing the dependence on costly interim measures such as a waking watch. We estimate that that will save residents a combined £3 million each month. Alongside that, we continue to prioritise the removal of unsafe cladding and have committed funds to help make homes safer, faster.

Sleep deprivation is recognised as a form of torture. People living in buildings with unsafe cladding are being tortured: physically, due to a lack of sleep, as they live in fear; financially, as they cannot sell their homes and are forced to pay for waking watches; and mentally, as they live in limbo. When does my right hon. Friend expect that torture to end?

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend; she has campaigned long and hard for her constituents, and has raised this issue with me outside the Chamber as well as within it. We all appreciate the terrible challenges and suffering that many people around our country face on this issue. That is why we want the residents of blocks that are enduring a waking watch to get the benefits of our changes as soon as possible. We expect the £30 million fund to be open this month, with the aim of providing funding for the installation of alarms as quickly as possible. I think we all agree that the best way of making buildings safe is to speed up remediation, and that is what our policies intend.