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20/07/2020

Government publishes building safety bill

Words: Laura Edgar
High rise flats / iStock-1124435036

The government has published a ‘landmark’ building safety bill, which seeks to make residents safer in their home.

The bill is published in draft form today, and the government explained that residents helped to develop the proposals. Through the bill, it wishes residents to feel empowered to challenge inaction from the owner of their building and also have better access to safety information. 

Residents will also be able to use a “swift and effective” complaints process.

Plans are in train within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for a building safety regulator, which will have the power to hold building owners to account and ensure that they face consequences if standards are not met. 

The government says it will enforce more stringent rules applying to buildings of 18 metres or more or taller than six storeys from the design phase to occupation.

The draft legislation is expected to evolve as further evidence and risks are identified to make sure that residents’ safety is always prioritised. Powers will be provided to better regulate construction materials and products to guarantee that they are safe to use.

Government expert Michael Wade will work with leaseholders and the finance and insurance industries. He has been tasked with testing and recommending solutions to protect leaseholders from unaffordable costs of fixing historic defects, ensuring that the burden does not fall on taxpayers. 

He will also develop proposals to address insurance issues concerning building safety.

The draft bill includes a new ‘building safety charge’ to give leaseholders greater transparency on costs incurred in maintaining a safe building.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: “This is a significant milestone on our journey to fundamentally improving building safety and delivering real change that will keep people safer in their homes.

“I remain committed to making sure we get this right, which is why I will be publishing the draft bill for scrutiny and improvement before it is introduced in Parliament.

“I am also calling on the industry to actively prepare for these changes now. It is vital that the sector moves in step with us, to provide confidence and reassurance to residents that their safety is firmly at the heart of everything we do.”

Building safety and fire minister Lord Greenhalgh added: “As a government we are determined to learn the lessons from that fateful night at Grenfell Tower and ensure that a tragedy like this does not happen again.

“These are the biggest changes to building safety legislation for nearly 40 years, and they will raise standards across the industry and ensure building owners have nowhere to hide if they break the rules.”

The government has also published a consultation today (20 July) that sets out proposals for the implementation of recommendations from phase one of the Grenfell Tower inquiry that require a change in the law. It considers strengthening fire safety in all regulated buildings in England.

In addition, the government says full applications for the £1 billion Building Safety Fund can be submitted from 31 July – 747 registration forms have been processed since 1st June. 

Image credit | iStock

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