Our Submission to LUHC Inquiry on Building Safety

We responded to the recent LUHC Select Committee’s Inquiry on Building Safety: Remediation and Funding.

You can read our full written submission here, including our “asks” which you can see by clicking the Continue Reading button.

Our Asks

Successive governments (and the same civil servants in charge of building regulations) have allowed the UK’s regulatory system to remain inadequate, weak, and gameable despite repeated warnings over the decades including reports after fires.

Following the Grenfell catastrophe, the Government and its Expert Panel moved to clarify fire safety and assessment in residential buildings, with the January 2020 Consolidated Advice Notes trapping residents in all buildings of all heights. Since that date, the genie has been out of the bottle in respect of the assumed and identified unsafe nature of the residential built environment in the United Kingdom – the removal of the Consolidated Advice Notes is unlikely to alleviate the requirements to assess fire spread in residential buildings due to the Fire Safety Act and the use of PAS9980 does not seem as if it will be of the benefit the Government hopes17.

Over the years, the Government approach has been piecemeal and disjointed18 – this must cease, and a comprehensive solution must be delivered at real pace.

To remedy this crisis and bring about a truly fair and moral end to this living nightmare, we repeat our key Asks:

There must be simple, true, and robust statutory protection from all costs to remediate external and internal fire safety defects for all leaseholders in all buildings of all heights and all tenures. The Government must look to the precedent set by the Mesothelioma Act 2014 and create one simple piece of legislation that protects all leaseholders.

The Government must take the place of leaseholders as the backstop in the proposed non- cladding “waterfall” solution.

There must be no demarcation between leaseholders of any type, whether those who are owner- occupiers or landlords based on an arbitrary figure of the flats leased.

There must be forward funding of required works, so they can commence at pace, with costs recovered through any necessary means by the Government allowing leaseholders to move on.

The Operational Date for protections must be set as 14th June 2017. This must be allied with a Statutory Compensation Scheme for all innocent victims of this scandal who have been forced to pay thousands of pounds in the last five years.

The Government must work to ensure there is full and clear separation between resident-led “building owners”, such as Right-To-Manage companies, Residential Management Companies and Enfranchised buildings, and major institutional freeholders. The role of the Building Safety Manager must be drastically revised to the benefit of leaseholders or removed altogether from the Building Safety Bill.

Full consideration must be given to a public/private building insurance risk-sharing partnership timescales for a solution to soaring insurance premiums must be provided and adhered to.

The Secretary of State should confirm whether he has accepted the Chancellor’s position or whether he is willing to make the argument for additional building safety funding from HM Treasury.

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