Press release

‘Radical reform’ of building regulatory system needed, finds Dame Judith Hackitt

New regulatory framework for higher-risk residential buildings is required to improve building safety and ensure that residents are safe.

Hackitt report

Issued for and on behalf of Dame Judith Hackitt.

The Chair of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety has found that fundamental reform is needed to improve building safety and to rebuild trust among residents of high-rise buildings.

At the heart of the new system will be a requirement for the construction industry to take responsibility for the delivery of safe buildings, rather than looking to others to tell them what is or is not acceptable.

Dame Judith Hackitt was appointed by the government to lead the review in light of the system failures revealed by testing carried out in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. She has published her findings today (17 May 2018).

Dame Judith says:

This is a systemic problem. The current system is far too complex, it lacks clarity as to who is responsible for what, and there is inadequate regulatory oversight and enforcement. Simply adding more prescription or making amendments to the current system, such as restricting or prohibiting certain practices, will not address the root causes.

The recommendations in this report will lead to a clearer, simpler but more robust approach to the building and on going management of high rise residential buildings.

Dame Judith Hackitt

Building on her interim report, which found that the current system of building and fire safety is not fit for purpose and set out 6 key areas for further work, Dame Judith’s final report finds that a new regulatory framework for higher-risk residential buildings is required to improve building safety and ensure that residents are safe.

The report sets out an ambitious vision for a new framework which will improve standards for both new and existing buildings. Many of the ideas proposed could be applied to a wider range of buildings and aim to drive change more broadly.

Many in the sector have called for fundamental change. It will be important now for industry to show leadership in driving this forward to achieve genuine and lasting culture change.

The ultimate test of this new framework will be the rebuilding of public confidence – the system needs to be more transparent and the relationship between landlords and tenants needs to be one of partnership and collaboration.

The report makes recommendations relating to:

  • a less prescriptive, outcomes-based approach to the regulatory framework to be overseen by a new regulator that can drive the right behaviours

  • clearer roles and responsibilities throughout the design and construction process and during occupation, to ensure real accountability for building safety

  • residents to be consulted and involved in decisions affecting the safety of their home and listened to if they have concerns

  • a more rigorous and transparent product testing regime and a more responsible marketing regime

  • industry to lead on strengthening competence of all those involved in building work and to establish an oversight body

Dame Judith is calling on the government to set out a clear plan for implementation and for industry and regulators to start ‘living’ the changes now.

Further information

See Dame Judith Hackitt’s final report.

Dame Judith Hackitt’s interim report was published in December 2017.

Background to the review

  • The review of building safety and fire regulations was commissioned in July 2017 following the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017.

  • It was commissioned by the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, and the then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd.

  • The review’s terms of reference were published in August 2017.

  • An interim report was published in December 2017.

  • Dame Judith brought industry representatives together for a summit held in January 2018.

  • Working groups were established and their findings were reported back to Dame Judith in March 2018.

The review examined:

  • the regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management of buildings in relation to fire safety

  • related compliance and enforcement issues

  • international regulation and experience in this area

The report is separate to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and, importantly, does not replace the criminal investigation or seek to identify the cause of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The report is forward looking and focused on establishing a sufficiently robust regulatory system for the future, in this way providing assurance to residents that the buildings they live in are safe and remain so.

Dame Judith Hackitt has today shared her report with Sir Martin Moore-Bick, chair of the independent inquiry into the Grenfell fire.

Short biography of Dame Judith Hackitt

Dame Judith was Chair of the Health and Safety Executive from October 2007 to March 2016. She previously served as a health and safety commissioner between 2002 and 2005. She was made a Dame in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to health and safety and engineering, and in particular for being a role model for young women. She was awarded a CBE in 2006.

In April 2016, she was appointed as Chair of EEF, The Manufacturers’ Organisation.

Dame Judith is a chemical engineer and graduated from Imperial College in 1975. She worked in the chemicals manufacturing industry for 23 years before joining the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) in 1998. She became Director General of CIA (from 2002-2005) and then worked in Brussels for the European Chemical Industry Association (CEFIC).

She was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in July 2010 and currently chairs the External Affairs Committee. Dame Judith is a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers and was President of IChemE from May 2013 to May 2014.

Dame Judith is also Chair of Semta – the Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance – and a non-executive director of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

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Published 17 May 2018