SSB Law: Homeowners hit with huge legal bills call on Government for help

Homeowners in Bradford say they risk losing their homes and their health after the no-win no-fee law firm representing them went bust.

They are among an estimated 10,000 people nationwide who were offered free legal representation by SSB law to pursue compensation claims for insulation that they say caused damp and mould in their homes.

After SSB went into administration in January, some have been hit by eye-watering legal fees.

Since the insulation was originally installed as part of a free Government scheme, they are now calling on ministers to compensate them.

Ailsa White had the cavity wall insulation installed in 2017.

Since then, for the past seven years, she says damp and mould has destroyed her home.

“I was disgusted,” Ailsa said. “The mould was everywhere - and it was peach, orange, grey, black. It was disgusting.”

SSB Law approached Ailsa, telling her she could fight back with a ‘no-win no-fee claim’, but this year, the law firm collapsed, and she was told the costs would be handed to her.

Ailsa says the stress and strain of dealing with SSB Law have made her ill.

“I collapsed in my own kitchen - I banged my head, lost consciousness and ended up with a concussion. I had to go to hospital and was put under a cardiologist and the faint clinic. I had all sorts of investigations - and it was just stress.”

Ailsa hasn’t been told exactly how much she’ll have to repay - but believes it could be between £40,000 and £50,000, on top of the ongoing costs of the defective insulation.

Ailsa White says the stress of dealing with SSB Law has made her ill.

An online group, set up to support others who have been hit by bills after SSB’s collapse, estimates that up to 10,000 people could be in the same position.

On Tuesday, some of them took their protest to Parliament, calling on the Government to compensate them.

Qurrah Ahmed, from Bradford, attended the protest on behalf of her father, who borrowed money to repay his claim.

Qurrah said, “he was living in absolute fear. He’s got high blood pressure, he’s got health issues and he’s also in his seventies, so he’s an old vulnerable person.”

Her MP, Imran Hussain, along with Bradford South MP Judith Cummins, Barry Sheerman MP and Holly Lynch MP, held a meeting to share similar stories from their constituents.

Mr Hussain, who represents the Bradford East constituency, said: “I had a case of a pensioner served with a notice of £11,000 days before Christmas - can you imagine what went through his mind, someone living on very limited means? And we also have the cost of living crisis, many people up and down the country are on the poverty line.”

Mr Hussain is joining other MPs to call on the Government to provide compensation for victims.

Some MP's held a meeting to share similar stories from their constituents.

A Government spokesperson said “The UK has one of the strongest consumer protection regimes in the world including serious penalties for those who fail to comply.”

In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk also promised to look into the issue.

But not everyone hit by huge bills says the Government is to blame.

While some, like Ailsa, believe the Government’s insulation scheme ruined their homes, others say SSB convinced them to take out claims, even though there weren’t any issues with their homes.

Irshad Ahmed claims he was hounded by SSB Law, and told their surveys revealed damage caused by faulty insulation.

When his case got to court, however, he was told the evidence was inadequate - and now that SSB Law has gone bust, he’s been told he has to pay £15,000.

He said: “When I told my wife and children about this, they blamed me. They said you shouldn’t have gone with them - and I felt guilty. My wife and me, we’ve been arguing ever since.”

Like many others, Irshad says he can’t pay off his costs - but also can’t afford to seek further legal advice.

“I’m on a pension now struggling to pay bills. Where am I going to find £15,000 to pay them? They keep contacting me, sending me court orders. I don’t know what to do - if you go into a solicitors, they want to charge you £350 an hour so you end up in the same boat again.”

Irshad Ahmed claims he was hounded by SSB Law

SSB Law was approached for comment, but since they have gone into administration, no one was able to respond.

FRP, the administrators for SSB Law, said: "While SSB is no longer trading, we’ve secured the transition of al

l live case work to new providers and have notified clients. We’ll be managing that process over the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition."

But that process has not been smooth - and many like Irshad and Ailsa now hope that where the law has failed them, Government can step in.