Following the tragic and preventable death of two-year old Awaab Ishak who died of a respiratory condition caused by exposure to mould in his family’s flat in Rochdale; Preet Kaur Gill MP has written to the Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, Deborah Cadman, issuing a stark warning.
The MP urged the council “to act now to prevent any other child from suffering”.
British homes are among the worst insulated, most draughty, and leakiest in Europe. England has one of the oldest housing stocks in the developed world and one of the lowest rates of social housing replacement. However, the Conservative Government has also failed to retrofit the worst energy efficient homes, leaving families losing hundreds of pounds a year in heat loss and forced to deal with damp and mould in their homes.
The Birmingham MP also went on to ask:
How many properties in Birmingham have been treated for issues relating to damp and mould?
How many more than once?
What is the council doing to tackle the underlying problem of mould in properties?
Will council properties be a priority as a part of the three cities retrofit programme?
Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Birmingham Edgbaston said, “While Awaab’s death was devastating, it was also preventable. Across Birmingham, there are 60,000 council properties and thousands more in social housing and the private sector which need urgent attention. That’s why I am calling on the council to lead on this and call on Government to fund a retrofit programme for all council housing.
“Birmingham has had almost £1 billion taken from its budget over the last 12 years by Conservatives. This has meant halving the workforce and putting services across the city at breaking point. I will be writing to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Community, as it is unacceptable that funding for retrofitting won’t be available until 2025. This is simply too late and puts lives at risk.
“Labour’s plan to retrofit 19 million homes would not only would save families hundreds of pounds on their energy bills but would prevent the issue of mould in properties, saving Birmingham City Council millions of pounds in reoccurring repairs. If Government had listened to the Labour Party last year, we would be on track to have already retrofitted 2 million homes.”
In her letter, Preet outlined how the issue of damp was one of the largest causes of complaints from her constituents and how of the 160 outstanding cases she has with the council, almost all of them were reoccurring.
Vicky Mclaughlin, a constituent of Preet’s in Bartley Green said, "For the last decade, I have been left in a council house with my partner who has severe asthma and our three young children, living with mould and damp. I have followed all the council's guidance to make sure the property is well ventilated and every time it has reappeared, I have reported it to the council to ask them to fix it. Every time the council has come out, they have simply repainted over the problem. It hasn't fixed the underlying issue of damp. Now, I just want to move house to a property that doesn't leave me in fear of making my family severely ill.
"I would like to thank Preet for all of her help over the last few years. Thanks to her intervention, I was offered another property by the council. Sadly, this property had the exact same problems with mould and so it wasn't possible to accept it.
"I support Preet in her campaign to get council homes to a decent standard. No one should be made to live how we currently are, and I hope the Government backs Birmingham City Council to allow them to do this work."
Photos from the property of Vicky Mclaughlin below.
Read the full letter to Deborah Cadman, Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council below.