Hard to overstate the impact the cavity wall scandal has had on people’s lives - Holly Lynch

The problem starts with Government grants for cavity wall insulation schemes, but I wish it ended there. Sadly, it doesn’t. I want to thank The Yorkshire Post, God’s own newspaper; its editor, James Mitchinson; and the deputy business editor, Greg Wright.

They recognised the agony of ordinary people in what is a complicated legal mess and have worked hard to unravel it and tell those stories, and I am truly grateful to them for their diligence and painstaking work in shining a spotlight on this situation.

I am working with 20 constituents in my Halifax constituency who have all been affected. However, figures quoted by the BBC indicate that up to 1,400 people may have been impacted.

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More and more MPs are taking to the Chamber and writing to Government Ministers with their concerns and their local cases. Most of the cases I am working on follow a similar pattern.

Holly Lynch is the Labour MP for Halifax. PIC: UK ParliamentHolly Lynch is the Labour MP for Halifax. PIC: UK Parliament
Holly Lynch is the Labour MP for Halifax. PIC: UK Parliament

People had a knock on the door in around 2015 or 2016 and were asked whether they would like cavity wall insulation. They were assured that it would not cost them a penny because it was a Government-funded scheme. They were told it would be better for the environment, help them to reduce their energy bills and save them money.

Most of the people who had the knock on the door were eligible for the scheme on the basis that they were in receipt of some form of welfare support, so the prospect of saving money on energy bills was an attractive one.

Yet months and years later, mould and damp started to affect properties where it had never been an issue before. In some cases, I have seen families become really quite unwell living in these conditions, and they could not understand what had changed so drastically in their homes.

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Years later, people had a second knock on the door from representatives of law firms, who often told them that they should not have had cavity wall insulation in the first place; that it has done damage to their homes that would cost thousands to fix; and, if they wanted the situation resolved, they should allow the law firm to take the insulators, many of which have since disappeared, to court on a no win, no fee basis.

These cases were taken on by SSB Law, which corresponded with my constituents for some time until, just before Christmas of last year, these families and individuals received enforcement notices telling them they owed thousands of pounds in legal fees and that, if they did not pay them, bailiffs would be coming to their homes.

One bill was for £18,000, one was for £32,000, and there were a range of amounts in between and beyond.

Bearing in mind that people were usually eligible for the Government-funded schemes on the basis that they were in receipt of some form of welfare support, these bills have devastated people who simply have no means of paying them. It is hard to overstate the impact that this has had on people’s lives

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I’ve asked ministers to undertake a review into the whole sorry mess.

It is a scandal upon a scandal, which has affected these vulnerable people, up to 1,400 of them, who in some cases have chronic problems with damp and mould in their homes as a consequence of a Government-funded scheme.

An abridged version of a speech made by Holly Lynch, Labour MP for Halifax, in the House of Commons

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