England: Major changes to the Building Safety Regime
CIAT invites comments on the proposals.
Links to visit:
Written Ministerial Statement made to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Homes, Communities and Local Government, which can be found here.
Draft Building Safety Bill and all the accompanying suite of documents can be found here.
Home Office Fire Safety Order can be found here.
The Written Ministerial Statement provides the best summary of the measures and also of the new regulator, which will be based within HSE.
Building Safety Bill
CIAT welcomes the MHCLG's publication of the draft Building Safety Bill, together with its associated guidance and the Home Office's publication of the Fire Safety Consultation. The new legislative framework has the potential to deliver a range of significant improvements to building safety regulation. These will include:
- a new national regulator that will strengthen the whole regulatory system for building safety
- greater accountability and responsibility for fire and structural safety issues throughout the entire lifecycle of buildings (design, construction, and occupation)
- putting residents at the heart of the new regime, with a stronger voice and better access to safety information about their building
- protecting the rights of homebuyers and hold developers to account; and
- a complete holistic overhaul of the building control profession
The Government's decision to publish the Building Safety Bill as a draft for pre-legislative scrutiny gives CIAT the opportunity to provide detailed comment. This will ensure that the most effective and workable regime is achieved from the legislation, working as appropriate with the HSE, MHCLG, Home Office, BSI, Competence Steering Group and others, of which CIAT is involved.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment, for which the CIC provides the Secretariat, and CIAT is a member, made the recommendation to the MHCLG to set up a New Homes Ombudsman. The draft bill will make it a requirement of developers of new build housing to belong to the New Homes Ombudsman.
CIAT invites your comments on the Draft Bill by Tuesday 8 September; please forward this to Graham Chalkley, Assistant Practice Director, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call for Evidence
Following the publication of the draft Building Safety Bill, it will now go through the process of pre-legislative scrutiny which will be carried out by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee. The call for evidence was launched on 3 August.
The Committee will scrutinise the policy objectives, key provisions and likely impact of the draft Bill.
These reflect the five broad areas of reform as set out in the Government's consultation (accountability, residents' voice, enforcement and sanctions, product testing and regulatory system), while also reflecting the concerns of the MHCLG Select Committee raised in its July 2019 report (Building regulations and fire safety: consultation response and connected issues) and other correspondence. This will include assessing the following:
- How well does the Bill, as drafted, meet the Government's own policy intentions?
- Does the draft Bill establish an appropriate scope for the new regulatory system?
- Will the Bill provide for a robust – and realistic – system of accountability for those responsible for building safety? Are the sanctions on those who do not meet their responsibilities strong enough?
- Will the Bill provide strong mechanisms to ensure residents are listened to when they have concerns about their building's safety?
- Is the Government right to propose a new Building Safety Charge? Does the Bill introduce sufficient protections to ensure that leaseholders do not face excessive charges and that their funds are properly managed?
- Does the Bill improve the product testing regime in a way that will command the full confidence of the sector?
- Is it right that the new Building Safety Regulator be established under the Health and Safety Executive, and how should it be funded?
- Does the Bill present an opportunity to address other building safety issues, such as requirements for sprinkler systems?
The Committee will take into account the consultation and the response as part of its pre-legislative scrutiny. However, written evidence is invited specifically on aspects of the draft Bill as published which are considered to go beyond the scope of the Government's consultation. Respondents should not feel obliged to respond to every question. Submissions should address the bullet points identified above.
There is an online tool for submitted written evidence, with instructions on the webpage: committees.parliament.uk/work/361/prelegislative-scrutiny-of-the-building-safety-bill/ The Committee has asked for evidence to be concise – if it consists of over 3,000 words, include a short summary as well; include an introduction to the organisation and the reason for submitting evidence. Evidence should not already be published.
The deadline for responses is 14 September 2020.
The Committee will be taking oral evidence after Summer recess and these are usually open to the public. After scrutiny, the Committee will report its findings and make recommendations. We will continue to work with stakeholders on areas that need refinement or further consultation to finalise measures. The Bill will then be introduced formally in the House of Commons or the House of Lords.
Building Safety eBulletin
The bulletin, published by the HSE intends to keep readers up to date on the shadow Building Safety Regulator being established within HSE and the progress of the draft Building Safety Bill and Fire Safety Order consultation.
Find out more about the new Building Safety Regulator.
To visit the HSE and subscribe to receive future issues click here