Update on Building Safety
Progress continues on the legislative framework for the Government’s proposed reforms to the building safety regime, in the form of the Building Safety Bill, Fire Safety Bill and the Fire Safety Order.
Building Safety Bill
The draft Building Safety Bill was published for consideration in July last year, and the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee concluded its pre-legislative scrutiny of the bill and published a final report in November. The CIOB contributed a submission to the inquiry and we are pleased to see that our work was referenced 10 times in the final document.
The Committee’s report makes 13 recommendations to Government on issues including secondary legislation, timelines of the new regime, leaseholders, accreditation, accountable persons and a competency framework. The Government is expected to publish its response to the report and its recommendations imminently, before introducing the bill to Parliament in mid-Spring. Work is also underway at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to establish the Building Safety Regulator in shadow form.
> Read the MHCLG Committees report on the Building Safety Bill here
> See the CIOB’s submission on the bill here
> Sign up to receive updates from the policy team on the progress of the bill here
Construction Products Regulator
In January, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced the creation of a new Construction Products Regulator, with the aim of ensuring that home-building materials are made safer. The new regulator will operate within the Office for Product Safety and Standards, with an initial £10 billion funding for establishment. It will have the power to conduct its own product testing, remove products from market and prosecute firms who violate the new rules.
Simultaneously, the Construction Products Association (CPA) has now released its Code of Construction Product Information (CCPI). The CCPI has been developed by the CPA’s Marketing Integrity Group, which was set up following Dame Judith Hackitt’s Building a Safer Future report. The Group conducted an industry wide ‘call for evidence’ survey in 2019 to address the findings of this report, and the result is the publication of the 11-point code, which aims to set a level playing field for all construction product manufacturers to ensure that the information they provide passes the five tests identified in the 2019 survey.
The Marketing Integrity Group is currently driving an industry-wide consultation to give manufacturers, specifiers and users of information an opportunity to comment on the new Code, the implementation of its 11 Clauses, and proposed ongoing management and policing.
We will be following the progress of the consultation closely and are encouraging members to make submissions. The deadline for submission is 31 March, and the consultation can be accessed here.
> Download the Code and submit your response to the consultation here
> Find out more about the new Construction Products Regulator here
Fire Safety Bill
The Fire Safety Bill received its third reading in the House of Lords on 24 November and will now go on to its ‘ping pong’ phase, where amendments are debated back and forth between the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
MPs are currently in the process of considering amendments tabled in the House of Lords. Several Conservative MPs have proposed changes to these amendments which would remove any obligation on leaseholders to pay costs relation to remediation of historical building safety defects and the Fire Safety Order. These changes received significant support from members of opposition parties, and on Monday 1 February an Opposition Day debate was held in the House of Commons, on the topic of cladding. The Labour Party tabled a motion calling on the Government to immediately provide funding to fix unsafe homes and to ensure that leaseholders would not bear the financial burden of remediation, which ultimately passed by 263 votes to zero. It is important to note, however, that Conservative MPs were instructed to abstain from the vote and that the vote itself is not legally binding.
The BBC reports that the Government is preparing to commit significant additional funding towards the issue – running into the billions – to be paid for by the taxpayer and announced before the Fire Safety Bill returns from the House of Lords to continue its final stages in the Commons.
> Read the CIOB’s reaction on the debate here
> Find out more about the Fire Safety Bill here