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Government responds to Hackitt Review

17 May 2018

THE MINISTER for Housing, Communities and Local Government has issued a response to the Independent Review on the Building Regulations and Fire Safety on behalf of the government.

Speaking in Parliament, James Brokenshire revealed that the government will bring forward plans to update Building Regulations fire safety guidance and has opened a public consultation on the Independent Review on the Building Regulations and Fire safety, which will run until July.  He has also reaffirmed the government’s intention to ban inappropriate desktop studies.

Mr Brokenshire said: “Dame Judith is clear that the current system - developed over many years and successive governments – is not fit for purpose.

“She is calling for major reform and a change of culture, with the onus more clearly on everyone involved to manage the risks they create at every stage and government doing more to set and enforce high standards.

“This government agrees with that assessment and supports the principles behind the report’s recommendations for a new system.

“We agree with the call for greater clarity and accountability over who is responsible for building safety during the construction, refurbishment and on-going management of high-rise homes.

“The Hackitt review has shown that in too many cases people who should be accountable for fire safety have failed in their duties.

“In future, the government will ensure that those responsible for a building must demonstrate they have taken decisive action to reduce building safety risks and will be held to account.

“We agree that the system should be overseen by a more effective regulatory framework, including stronger powers to inspect high-rise buildings and sanctions to tackle irresponsible behaviour.

:We agree that there should be no buck passing between different parts of the industry and that everyone needs to work together to change the system.

“And, crucially – given the concerns raised following the Grenfell tragedy – we agree that residents must be empowered with relevant information.

“I am committing today to bring forward legislation that delivers meaningful and lasting change and gives residents a much stronger voice in an improved system of fire safety. Changing the law will take time.

“But as Dame Judith acknowledges, we can – and must – start changing the culture and practice right now. As a first step, we are asking everyone involved to have their say on how we can achieve this by contacting us by the end of July.

“Their response will inform a more detailed statement to the House in the autumn on how we intend to implement the new regulatory system.

“For our part, this government has accepted and been implementing the recommendations that relate to us since Dame Judith published her interim report in December.

“Firstly, we are consulting on significantly restricting or banning the use of “desktop studies” to assess cladding systems.

“Inappropriate use of desktop studies is unacceptable and I will not hesitate to ban them if the consultation – which closes on 25 May – does not demonstrate that they can be used safely.

“Secondly, we are working with industry to clarify Building Regulations fire safety guidance, and I will publish this for consultation in July.

“Let me be clear, the cladding believed to be on Grenfell Tower was unlawful under existing building regulations. It should not have been used.

“I will ensure that there is no room for doubt over what materials can be used safely in cladding of high rise residential buildings.

“Having listened carefully to concerns, the government will consult on banning the use of combustible materials in cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings.

“Thirdly, we will work with the industry to make the wider suite of building regulations guidance more user-friendly.”

The Prime Minister announced yesterday, the government will fully fund the removal and replacement of potentially dangerous cladding by social landlords with costs estimated at £400 million.