Government is to implement in full the findings of the Hackitt Review into building safety – with all its implications for a future regulatory framework.
Plans outlined by MHCLG this afternoon (18th Dec) confirm tougher sanctions for those who disregard residents’ safety, more rigorous standards and guidance for those undertaking building work, and a stronger voice for residents.
All three factors were central to the review of building regulations by Dame Judith Hackitt in her review of building regulations and fire safety post Grenfell.
Secretary of State for housing, James Brokenshire, said the Building a Safer Future programme committed government to a programme of reform over the coming years, which will:
- Take forward all Hackitt review recommendations
- Create a more effective regulatory and accountability framework to provide greater oversight of the industry
- Introduce clearer standards and guidance, including establishing a new Standards Committee to advise on construction product and system standards and regulations
- Put residents at the heart of the new system of building safety, empowering them with more effective routes for engagement and redress
- Help create a culture change and a more responsible building industry, from design to construction and management
Government will establish the Joint Regulators’ Group to trial elements of a new regulatory system ahead of any new proposed legislation.
This group will bring existing regulatory bodies together to work with developers and building owners, as well as seeking input from residents and tenants, to develop and test new approaches that may later feature in legislation.
In addition to setting out its plans to implement the changes called for by Dame Judith Hackitt, a full review of fire safety guidance within building regulations has also been launched.
For this, government has issued a ‘call for evidence’ that will gather expert advice on the full range of fire safety issues to enable guidance to be revised.
Views will also be invited from residents and those who manage buildings on how to improve fire and structural safety.
Residents and building owners are invited to identify the best ways of working together to meet safety responsibilities and to share existing good practice.
Brokenshire said: “There is nothing more important than being safe in your own home and I am determined to improve building safety.
“My plan for stronger, tougher rules will make sure there is no hiding place for those who flout building safety rules.
“By making people responsible and more accountable for safety, we will create a more rigorous system so residents will always have peace of mind that they are safe in their own homes.”
Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Chief Executive, Paul Everall, commented: “The Secretary of State has shown leadership by recognising the need for systemic reform of the building safety regime by implementing Dame Judith Hackitt recommendations in full.
“LABC has pledged to provide full support to the new Joint Regulators Group and we are ready with resources, people and expertise.”
Chartered Institute of Housing head of knowledge Debbie Larner said: “The Hackitt Review rightly recommended a wholesale overhaul of the building regulations and fire safety system covering high-rise buildings and we have been urging the government to put its recommendations into practice as soon as possible, so we welcome today’s announcement that they will all be taken forward.
“It is absolutely vital that we increase accountability for everyone involved in building and managing homes and make sure that residents have a stronger voice.
“Everyone who works in housing must play their part in the new regulatory system and we will be doing everything we can to make sure that our members understand the changes coming their way so they can put them into practice quickly and effectively.”
Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation says: “The principles the Government have set out today are the right ones, and we acknowledge the scale of the job that needs to be done, but residents, building owners and everyone involved in developing and managing high rise buildings will still be waiting for more detail on how the new building safety system will work in practice.
“The National Housing Federation has already been working with housing associations to take action over the last year and a half.
“We are backing the Government’s Early Adopters Scheme and Building Safety Charter, through which several housing associations are already trialling some of the much needed changes to the system. Beyond these schemes many housing associations are leading the way on developing and testing new processes for keeping tower blocks safe.
“All of this action must be seen as the starting point of a complete overhaul of our building safety system and it’s vital the Government moves quickly to bring more clarity.”