20 December 2018
In summary, the Government proposes to:
Further details will emerge in the spring when the Government will consult on how to take forward the regulatory changes. In the meantime, we set out below 10 take-away points.
The Government accept that a tougher regulatory framework with stronger sanctions and more robust enforcement powers will be required. This will ensure that those involved in the construction process from design, construction and management, should take ownership of potential building safety risks. Regulators are likely to have greater powers and more opportunity to intervene, and powers to undertake regular risk-based safety case reviews.
A Joint Regulators Group will be established to trial elements of the new regulatory system ahead of any proposed legislation.
The new regulatory framework will apply to:
The Government has accepted that there should be a duty-holder approach, similar to the regime under the CDM Regulations 2015, where duty-holders, such as the client, principal designer, principal contactor and managers of a building, take on responsibility for building safety throughout its life-time. Further consultation will take place on proposals for doing this in practice. The consultation will also include options for sanctions and enforcement, including making fire and rescue authorities statutory consultees in the planning process for high–rise multi-occupied residential buildings, and on the need for reporting and whistle-blowing structures.
Of critical importance will be the need for duty-holders to create, update, transfer and maintain a "golden thread" of information; and the establishment of regulatory gateways at key points in the design and construction process so that duty holders can demonstrate that they are actively managing safety risks.
Consultation will take place as to how these gateways and any safety case review would work in practice. In addition, the Government is working with industry experts to understand how robust records can be kept in digital format across the industry and will consult on proposals for a "digital by default" standard of record keeping.
Consultation is also expected on the removal of the choice of using local authority building control or Approved Inspectors. There is support for a stream-lined regulatory route for building control using local authorities but making use through the new regulatory regime of Approved Inspectors where the local authority lacks sufficient capacity or expertise.
A new regulatory body will be established. This body, the Joint Regulators Group, will consist of the HSE, Fire and Rescue authorities and local building control and will work with "early adopters" who are developers and other industry organisations to trial various approaches and also seek input from residents. One of the options would be the establishment of a statutory Joint Competent Authority, as suggested by the Hackitt Report.
The Government will create a new governance structure for oversight of building regulations and guidance and will establish a Standards Committee to advise on new and existing construction products and system standards.
The Government is also looking at ways to enable residents to become more engaged, raise concerns and seek redress about building safety. As part of this, the Government will consult on the requirements for duty-holders to provide residents with critical safety information, and put in place a resident engagement strategy. Residents are also being consulted by the Joint Regulators Group.
The Government is looking for the industry to be more responsible, and has formed a Competence Steering Group to develop proposals for an over-arching competence body. Final proposals are expected in April 2019. The Government will then consider whether the industry can deliver a coherent approach to assessing competence, or whether legislation is required to underpin a new system to assure competence.
A full technical review of fire safety guidance (Approved Document B) has also been launched. The Government has said that it will also carry out a review of Approved Document L (Conservation of Fuel and Power), Approved Document F (Ventilation) and Approved Documents M (Access to and use of buildings).
by multiple authors