Government funding the removal of unsafe cladding on social housing

On the 16 May 2018, the government announced that it will fund the removal of unsafe cladding currently used in social housing. The estimated cost of this is £400 million.

The announcement specifies that a fund will be established where local authorities and housing associations may apply for funding to finance the reasonable costs of removing and replacing unsafe cladding currently present in social housing.

The announcement comes following the Grenfell tragedy and pre-empted the final report of the Hackitt review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety (see further below). It also follows last year's offer to provide similar financial support to social landlords. Since then the government has consulted with social landlords who have voiced concern about prioritising the provision of important services, repairs, maintenance and investment in new homes. This additional source of funding should alleviate, at least in part, these difficulties currently faced by social landlords.

It remains to be seen how the fund will be accessed in practice and the criteria that will determine access to funds. 

Building a Safer Future, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report

On 17 May 2018, Dame Judith Hackitt's long anticipated independent review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety (Report) was finally published.

The Report focuses on residential buildings of 10 or more stories and recommends multiple changes, including:

  1. a revised statutory framework setting out clearer responsibilities and accountability for duty holders;
  2. greater powers of enforcement and penalties for breaches of fire safety obligations including a new mandatory incident reporting mechanism; and 
  3. a new a Joint Competent Authority (JCA) to oversee enforcements

It is recommended that the JCA consist of the Health and Safety Executive, fire and rescue authorities and local authority building standards.

The Report suggests that duty holders consult the JCA at three "Gateway Points": i) the planning permission stage; ii) the full plan approval stage; and iii) the completion stage. At each of these stages, duty holders would be required to satisfy strict criteria demonstrating their understanding and implementation of building safety management before they could continue to the next phase of the project.

Importantly, the Report suggests that the time limit for taking action against a duty holder should increase from 2 years to 5-6 years from the time of the offence.

The report is clear that the framework suggested will need to be implemented, in part at least, by primary legislation. Nevertheless, the Report encourages the industry to embrace these recommendations immediately and for businesses impacted to consider how the recommendations can be implemented in the soonest possible time.

Click here to view the Report.

RICS publishes new draft Appointment Forms

RICS publishes consultation versions of its 2018 suite of standard form consultant's appointments.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has published consultation versions of what is intended to be its next suite of standard form consultant's appointments. The consultation closes on the 15 June 2018, with the intention that the finalised forms be published in the Autumn.

The intended 2018 suite of documents are set to replace the current 2008 suite of documents. The documents to be included in the new 2018 suite largely mirror those of the 2008 suite but have some important additions. The documents proposed in the 2018 suite include:

  • a standard form of consultant's appointment for use in construction projects of any size and value;
  • a short form consultant's appointment, likely to be used for more straight forward projects of smaller values;
  • a short form consultant's appointment for designated services (this is a new addition to the suite of documents and is intended for specialist services which may be non-construction , for example, expert witness services); and
  • thirteen scope of services documents (compared to the 6 in the 2008 suite).

The modernisation of the documents looks to take into account the raft of changes to legislation and jurisprudence since the previous suite of documents, including the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and the Bribery Act 2010, as well as changes in custom and practice within the industry.

The consultation page can be accessed here