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Grenfell fire survivors condemn government's ‘indefensible’ Fire Safety Bill

GRENFELL fire survivors and bereaved families today condemned the Tory government’s “indefensible” Fire Safety Bill, which leaves hundreds of thousands of leaseholders facing crippling bills for the removal of dangerous cladding.

The legislation, introduced following the tower block blaze in west London in 2017, which killed 72 people, is set to become law after a final push to amend it was defeated in the House of Lords on Wednesday night.

Although the government had insisted that leaseholders would not bear the cost of removing the flammable materials, campaigners warned that the legislation would leave people liable for costs of up to £50,000.

Grenfell United, which represents survivors and grieving families, said that ministers had “broken their promises to leaseholders who have done absolutely nothing wrong,” adding that the legislation was “indefensible.”

End Our Cladding Scandal, another campaign group, echoed those comments, adding that the Bill “pulls the rug out from under a generation of homeowners.”

After Wednesday’s vote, the Commons housing, communities and local government committee called on ministers to abolish a loan scheme that would see affected leaseholders contribute to cladding replacement costs, insisting that they must be protected from having to fork out more.

Committee chairman and Labour MP Clive Betts called on the government to develop a scheme that “truly matches the scale of fire safety issues.

“It must prioritise support to where the safety risk is greatest and rebalance the financial burden so that it [does not fall] on leaseholders,” he added. 

The Bill was expected to receive royal assent last night after the Morning Star had gone to press.  

A Grenfell United spokesperson said: “It’s a grave injustice that many innocent leaseholders will be financially ruined over fire safety issues that were not of their own making, while the government is letting those responsible continue to get off scot-free.

“We will continue to put pressure on ministers to end this nightmare for hundreds of thousands of people across the country.”

A Justice4Grenfell spokesperson emphasised that the political will to remove the cladding was lacking and the “implicit push for residents to fund the costs themselves [was] shamefully overt. 

“The priority [for Tory MPs] is to ensure that their business and corporate mates continue to make huge profits, regardless of the cost to human life. Heartless.”

Housing Minister Chris Pincher said that the Bill was an “important first step” in the government’s legislative response to the disaster. 

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