Speaking in the debate on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s Phase 1 Report, Iain Duncan Smith highlights the additional insurance costs paid by leaseholders in a local block of flats and asks whether insurance companies should have been charging such extra costs until it was confirmed the cladding status was a real threat.
May I slightly extend that point, as these issues reach across the Floor? Since the terrible Grenfell disaster, people in a privately owned block of flats in my constituency have faced massively increased insurance costs. They have been unable to get anyone to give them a confirmed view about the cladding, or to receive information from the fire brigade about the real nature of the threat and danger. Everybody has run for cover, and as a result those people have already spent a vast amount of money—they are not wealthy people. They have now been told that the cladding does not pose a threat, but they have a backwash of costs and are still affected by this issue. Will the Secretary of State consider whether insurance companies, and others, should have been charging leaseholders those extra costs until it had been confirmed that there was a real threat?
I would be happy to take up the individual case raised by my right hon. Friend, and the wider point. We are working closely with the insurance industry. This issue involves a range of materials, the most dangerous of which is ACM cladding, which was on Grenfell Tower. That has been the focus of public money. It is the responsibility of all building owners to have an independent assessment and ensure that the building is safe—it sounds as if that is what happened, perhaps belatedly, to the building in my right hon. Friend’s constituency. That assessment should provide the answers, after which remediation work, if necessary, needs to happen at pace. If I can help to support that in any way, I will.