Family of man who died join calls for government to repair homes after collapse of SSB Law firm

Granada Reports political correspondent Elaine Willcox was at the protest in London.

A family are calling on the government to take responsibility after claiming debt caused by defective wall cavity insulation contributed to their father's death.

Ian Lofthouse died on 1 May 2024 after he was admitted to hospital with pneumonia, later developing encephalitis and kidney failure and then suffering a stroke.

The 74-year-old was one of many who used government backed grants to have cavity wall insulation installed in their property, but often that work was defective and caused damp and mould.

Mr Lofthouse was in debt after SSB Law, a Sheffield-based law firm, went into liquidation after promising hundreds of people they could sue to pay for repairs on a no win, no fee basis.

The legal fees were then passed on to homeowner, leaving them with significant debt and serious issues with their homes.

The family of Ian Lofthouse were among those that gathered outside parliament. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Mr Lofthouse's son, Christian Lofthouse, and his sister, Rebecca, were among protesters who gathered outside parliament to plead for government support.

"18 months ago, he was still dancing the night away on the northern soul scene. He would go out on weekenders, he used to go to Amsterdam with his friends," said Christian.

"With this whole situation, the damp affected his physical health, he had Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and also had asthma, living in a house with that, with those health conditions, his health deteriorated so quickly.

"There was also the mental effect, with SSB law. They came round, said we had a good case and they could get the houses fixed and get compensation.

"The company then went into liquidation."

The MP for Blackburn was also at parliament. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Among the protestors was the MP for Blackburn, Kate Hollern.

"People from Lancashire in particular have come to London, to parliament, to express the concern and frustration and the real disappointment in the situation they've been left in," said Ms Hollern.

"Families who have rooms that aren't liveable, causing real health issues and huge financial burdens.

"I believe the government has got some responsibility, for giving contracts to people who obviously weren't fit to do the job and secondly, the law firms who promised a no win no fee are now putting charges on people's home.

"These are people that cannot afford it, they're trapped, they cannot sell their house, they cannot afford the bill."

Like many others, the Lofthouse family say they had no issues with damp or condensation prior to the government scheme.

Christian added: "They were told it was a government backed scheme, It would help with the insulation and the heating bills in the winter. They thought it's a government backed's been approved by them, we'll do it.

"[My Mum] she's on a state pension, there's nothing she can do about it and now she's lost her would have been their 52nd wedding anniversary next month.

"She's lost a husband, we've lost a father and my niece and nephew have lost a grandfather."

In parliament, the Justice Secretary said he will respond to the claims in due course.

A Department of Levelling Up spokesperson said: "The UK has one of the strongest consumer protection regimes in the world including serious penalties for those who fail to comply with our building regulations.

"Local authority trading standards offices can investigate poor trading practices, any breaches of these standards can lead to enforcement notices, prosecution and unlimited fines."

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