I am very grateful for the extra 30 seconds, Mr Hollobone. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Florence Eshalomi) for organising this debate and speaking so brilliantly in opening it. In West Ham, we have the highest take-up of furlough and unemployment is up 240% since the pandemic began—it is grim. That is what people in Newham already face, and the costs and stresses of so-called interim fire safety measures come on top of that really difficult reality. Interim means that until the blocks of flats have been certified and, if necessary, remediated, people are in limbo, and that is proving to be a really long time. Because of these measures, residents are still living with the constant reminder that their building is not safe. It preys on their mind, and they are paying through their nose for the privilege.
Zain’s block was found to be unsafe, but the original developer of his building is now operating another company. It has refused to take responsibility, so the costs will inevitably fall to Zain and the other residents of his block. The Minister knows full well what I think about that. I would be grateful to him if he touches on what he can do to help Zain and other residents in similar circumstances.
Before the expensive remediation work even begins, Zain has been faced with massive bills. The insurance premium for the block has rocketed from £3,500 to £280,000. Unbelievably, Zain was asked to cover 2021’s bill with one day’s notice. Then there is the cost of the new alarm system, round after round of surveys, a new managing agency and even the dreaded waking watch. Overall, that could cost Zain £20,000—probably more. His building is not a high rise, so unless the Government change tack, the estimated £40,000 per household for the cost of remediation will not be covered fully either. Zain is terrified. He is going to have a bill of £60,000 and upwards in total.
I cannot emphasise enough what a strain this issue is putting on my constituents’ lives, their relationships, their ability to move on, and their mental health. It is so unfair. Time and again, Ministers have promised that leaseholders trapped in these situations will not have to pay to fix problems that they did not cause, but as I said before, with the interim costs, leaseholders are already paying. That is why so many people were bitterly disappointed when the Government rejected Labour’s amendments and the McPartland-Smith one-two. I really hope that today the Minister will provide us with fresh assurances that we can pass to Zain and the thousands of others that this seemingly endless awful situation will finally be resolved, and that the Government will step up.