The government has announced that the legislation to implement Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations for building regulations and fire safety ‘will be brought before parliament later this year’.
Dame Judith’s review of building regulations and fire safety was launched last year after the Grenfell Tower fire, with its interim review released in December 2017 finding that a ‘universal shift in culture’ is needed to rebuild trust ‘among residents of high-rise buildings’. This is also required to ‘significantly improve the way that fire safety is assured’, and the report calls on the construction industry, building owners, regulators and government to ‘come together’ to address ‘shortcomings’.
The final report was released in May 2018, but ‘stopped short’ of proposing a ban on flammable cladding, though the government later said it would open a consultation on the matter. The government announced in December 2018 that a ‘stronger and more effective regulatory framework’ will ‘implement the recommendations’ made by Dame Judith, and ‘commits the government to a programme of reform over the coming years’ as well as reviewing building regulation fire safety guidance.
However, earlier this year Dame Judith gave warnings at a fire safety seminar that the industry should not ‘let Grenfell slip off the agenda’, and is worried ‘we will not respond appropriately to change this broken system’. Most recently, a survey of construction companies found that a majority of firms in the sector ‘have yet to change the way they work in line with’ the recommendations
Now, Inside Housing has reported that Housing Secretary James Brokenshire, in a statement to the House of Commons, has confirmed that legislation to implement the ‘new post-Grenfell system of building regulations’ will be brought before parliament later this year, with the bill to be ‘put to MPs in the next parliamentary session’. This would mean that a vote would take place ‘at some point’ in 2020 or 2021, with ‘a view’ to legislation being implemented in 2021.
Mr Brokenshire stated: ‘We want to get this reform on to the statute book and make it happen. We have taken steps with the ban on combustible cladding. We have taken steps to see that action is advanced and that buildings are made safe and, indeed, we have taken steps with the remediation programme that is in place. Yes, there is absolutely more work to be done and I do not shrink from that.’
In response, shadow housing secretary John Healey commented: ‘There has been over these two long years some progress, which we welcome and for which individual members and ministers, including the secretary of state, deserve some credit. But a national disaster on the scale of Grenfell Tower requires a national response on the same scale from the government. That has not happened.’