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HomeReview of the YearReview of the Year: The cladding scandal dominated headlines and is still...

Review of the Year: The cladding scandal dominated headlines and is still unresolved  

Is your home actually fire safe?

This has been the frightening question for so many in Southwark after the twin disasters of the Grenfell and Lakanal fires.

An October report found that Southwark has the most “waking watches” for fire safety concerns out of any borough in the city, with 71 buildings requiring the service.

The efforts to resolve this issue, though, is also devastating for families, as many leaseholders have been told they will have to foot the bill for the remedial works to make their homes safe.

Deepa Mistry and her partner Greg Longley pictured for a Panorama documentary about shared ownership properties and the cladding scandal (C) BBC – Photographer: Jordan Downer

A family in Bermondsey  caught up in the cladding scandal told the News they had become reliant on food banks and Universal Credit to help pay their mortgage, with no end in sight for their housing nightmare – despite billions of new funding to make high rise blocks safe. Their story was then aired on BBC’s Panorama.

Cladding scandal: ‘I could go bankrupt’ says homeowner reliant on food banks and Universal Credit who has seen no progress despite government promises

For one family of six in Walworth, their bill hit £85,000 – a number that has only gotten larger as they have been told even more works are necessary. The bill for their block in total came to £2.6 million.

At the time, they told us that the bill was so farcical that there was simply no point even pretending they would be able to raise the money.

Family of six risks losing home after being hit with £85,000 cladding bill

The family and other leaseholders in Oyster Court are still waiting for clarification on how they are expected to fund the eye-watering bill, with a key problem being the lack of government clarity. These families face possibly losing their homes.

However, when the 2021 Budget was announced in November, there was no help for leaseholders to be seen, leaving families with eye-watering bills and health concerns hanging over their heads for months.

Oyster Court

The families of Oyster Court are not alone. Figures in February 2021 found that nearly 30,000 people are living in homes with dangerous cladding across Southwark and Lambeth – 16,982 of which are in Southwark.

The council has also been feeling the effects of the scandal, with a proposed new fire safety law in November requiring them to fork out £18 million to review their own high rise blocks.

It is a testament to the devastation of the Grenfell and Lakanal disasters that we are still feeling their effects today, and it is unclear when the borough and London as a whole will be able to say with surety that its families are safe – both from fire, and financial ruin.

 

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