In July 2018, the government announced new measures concerning building safety, and a new consultation on fire safety and building regulations. However, the government has not yet published further details surrounding the announced requirements for landlords within the private rented sector, including conducting electrical installation safety assessments every five years. So far, the government has yet to clarify the full scope of the inspection and enforcement regime, any exemptions and when the new regulations will come into force.
It is also expected that portable appliances will not be included within the checking regime, as these could introduce burdens and unreasonable costs for private landlords. Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, the Secretary of State for Communities, has stated there will be a comprehensive, full-scale technical review of the guidelines for fire safety issues around and within buildings, also known as ‘Approved Document B’, in Autumn this year.
The government is also seeking views on the planned clarifications of statutory guidance concerning fire safety. This aims to enhance usability and lower the risk of misunderstandings by those inspecting and conducting building work. The key aims of the consultation are to update the current guidance on fire safety and building regulations in order to reflect contemporary building practices, as well as to cover scientific and technical innovations, and the latest knowledge of fire risk.
In addition to the proposed electrical checks, the Communities Minister also announced:
– the establishment of a residents’ panel to ensure planned safety improvements are based on the experience of residents based in high-rise buildings.
– former chair of the UK Health and Safety Executive, Dame Judith Hackitt, has been assigned chair of an Industry Safety Steering Group, with the aim of driving the cultural changes required to hold the industry to account and improve safety.
– a small group of industry organisations will be piloting safety improvements, following Dame Hackitt’s recommendations, to demonstrate initial leadership on the reform of building safety.
At the consultation launch, James Brokenshire emphasised the importance of keeping people safe in their own houses. He announced a set of measures which aim to improve building safety in response to concerns that have been raised. Dame Hackitt’s report will set out the correct framework to improve building safety, where further recommendations may be made as necessary. Rather than simply clarifying the existing guidelines, it is thought that the introduction of end-to-end technical reviews of fire safety and building regulations will transform safety. The government has also previously started a consultation on the ban of using combustible materials on the external walls of residential high-rise buildings.
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