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Government plan for fire safety and building regulations expected soon

Monday 01 October 2018

The Government has responded to recommendations for improving building regulations and fire safety, made by the MHCLG Select Committee. In their response, they say they will set out an implementation plan "in the autumn".

The Government's response follows the Committee's recommendations which were first published in July 2018, after their own inquiry into the earlier independent review headed up by Dame Judith Hackitt.

The Government claims to have already taken action on some of the suggestions made by the Committee, drawing particular attention to the Social Housing Green Paper published in August. They say that this illustrates they are taking action to improve things for tenants in all social housing, not just the high-risk buildings of 10-storeys or more.

Furthermore, they say that by consulting on proposals to ban the use of combustible materials on the external cladding of high-rise buildings they are not afraid to go further than the Hackitt report recommendations.

The Government agree with the Committee's recommendation to review current building regulations and update Approved Document B. They refer to the public consultation on a clarified version of Approved Document B and a wider technical review of the guidance on fire safety and say that they will publish a further call for evidence "in the autumn" inviting views on the technical issues and further improvements that could be made in the Approved Document. 

The Committee argued that the Government should fully fund replacement cladding, even for private sector landlords, something which the Government has not offered any firm commitment on, making the point that in the private sector, firms are "doing the right thing and replacing cladding themselves".

On the question of establishing a more effective testing regime for cladding which would have wider industry support, and publishing clear guidance on the use of desktop studies, the Government say that they will again provide their reaction as part of their autumn response.

Despite evidence to the contrary, the Government argue that an appropriate level of fire safety can be achieved without the need to retrofit sprinklers, and that they may not always be appropriate, for example in buildings that this would not be possible from a structural perspective. 

They were not persuaded by the Committee's recommendation that a review is necessary into the responsibility of private sector buildings which have a complex ownership arrangements - e.g. building owners and long-leaseholders, making it clear that their stance is that it is the building owners who are legally responsible for ensuring the safety of residents. 

We now await the Government's autumn response and what further action, if any, will come.   

Read the Government's full response