England : Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP – Proportionality in building safety

WOBO welcomes the statement by Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP that places the developments linked to Grenfell within the “proportionalty context”.

The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP

The following Written Ministerial Statement was made by Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on Wednesday 21 July 2021 in response to the Independent Expert Statement on building safety in medium and lower rise blocks of flats.

Today marks the next major step on our path towards a robust, but proportionate, building safety regime. We seek a regime that delivers high standards of safety for people’s homes, particularly those which are high-rise and therefore somewhat higher risk whilst providing reassurance to leaseholders, residents and the market that the overwhelming majority of homes are safe.

The Grenfell Tower tragedy and subsequent independent review of Building Regulations led by Dame Judith Hackitt, exposed serious issues in the regulatory system and construction of some high-rise buildings: developers cladding buildings in combustible materials that should never have been used; construction product manufacturers ignoring safety rules, gaming the system and rigging the results of safety tests; building owners failing to take responsibility for ensuring the safety of their residents; and the government’s regulatory system lacking the strength and oversight to identify these failings and enforce standards…..

On this basis, the expert advice, which I have published today on gov.uk, reaches five recommendations to correct the disproportionate reaction we have seen in some parts of the market:

  • EWS1 forms should not be a requirement on buildings below 18 metres.
  • In the small number of cases where there are known to be concerns these should be addressed primarily through risk management and mitigation.
  • There should be a clear route for residents/leaseholders to challenge costly remediation work and seek assurance that proposals are proportionate and cost effective.
  • Government should work with the shadow Building Safety Regulator to consider how to implement an audit process to check that fire risk assessments are following guidelines, not perpetuating the risk aversion we are witnessing, in some instances, at the present time.
  • Fire risk assessors, and lenders should not presume that there is significant risk to life unless there is evidence to support this. This would ensure that they respond only to the evidence and adopt a far more proportionate and balanced approach.

www.gov.uk/government/speeches/proportionality-in-building-safety

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