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Landmark Government Bill on building safety published

Monday 20 July 2020

The UK Government has today, 20 July, published its draft Building Safety Bill which aims to make residents safer in their homes and deliver the biggest changes to building safety for nearly 40 years.

First announced in January 2020, The Building Safety Bill will improve regulations as the Government seeks to bring forward a “clearer system with residents’ safety at the heart of it” with residents having helped to develop the proposals through engagement groups.

What it means

Under the new rules, people living in high rise buildings will be empowered to challenge inaction from their building owners, have better access to safety information about their building, and will benefit from a swift and effective complaints process.

A Building Safety Regulator, already being set up within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), will be established and equipped with the power to hold building owners to account or face the consequences and will enforce a new, more stringent set of rules that will apply for buildings of 18 meters or more or taller than six storeys from the design phase to occupation.

The Government views the draft Bill as legislation that will evolve as further evidence and risks are identified to ensure that residents’ safety is always prioritised and will also provide new powers to better regulate construction materials and products to ensure they are safe to use.

Consultation

A consultation has also been published today, Monday 20 July, which sets out proposals to implement the recommendations from Phase One of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry that require a change in the law. The consultation also looks at strengthening fire safety in all regulated buildings in England to ensure that people are safe from fire regardless of where they live, stay, or work. Taken with the draft Bill, Government hope these measures will improve the safety of residents in buildings of all heights.

Guidance for building owners

To ensure building owners are clear on which steps they need to take to ensure the building is safe, Government will also be publishing a new Manual to the Building Regulations which contains all approved documents in one place.

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP 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.

The Government is also announcing that full applications for the £1 billion Building Safety Fund, to remove unsafe non-ACM cladding from buildings, can be submitted from Friday, 31 July.