Patricia Gibson – 2021 Speech on Building Safety

The speech made by Patricia Gibson, the SNP MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, in the House of Commons on 10 February 2021.

The announcement today of an additional £3.5 billion is encouraging as far as it goes, and I am sure that the Scottish Government look forward to the consequentials arising from it. What the Secretary of State has said will offer some relief to homeowners affected by cladding issues, many of whom are already struggling with bills and simply do not feel able to take on more debt as their dream homes have become a nightmare, with mortgage valuations of zero due to unsafe cladding. As he knows, the consequences have been far reaching for those caught up in this scandal, with homes currently worth nothing that cannot be sold and in which residents feel unsafe. I very much welcome the responsibility for cladding being borne—in part, at least—by the larger players in the industry, but more details as to how that works are needed.

Despite the Secretary of State saying that no leaseholder will ever pay back more than £50 a month in loans to remove this cladding, I am sure that he will understand that that will still be disappointing for many, since, through no fault of their own, they are still facing additional costs after buying their homes in good faith; they face debt that they do not want and which will impact on household incomes during these difficult times. Much more detail on exactly how these low interest loans will work is needed. Can the Secretary of State confirm that there will be an upper limit to these additional costs for leaseholders, or is the £50 cap only a monthly cap? He will appreciate that this matters because building work so often overruns. Will he also tell me within what timeframe he expects this remediation work to be completed?