Applies to England
Withdrawn on 31 January 2024: The issues giving rise to Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s Regulatory Notice have been resolved.
RSH Regulatory Notice
Provider: Great Yarmouth Borough Council
Regulatory code: 33UD
Publication date: 26 October 2022
Reason for publication: Consumer Standards
Regulatory route: Reactive Engagement
Other providers included in the judgement
The regulator has concluded that:
a) Great Yarmouth Borough Council (Great Yarmouth BC) has breached part 1.2 of the Home Standard; and
b) As a consequence of this breach, there was the potential for serious detriment to Great Yarmouth BC’s tenants.
The regulator will work with Great Yarmouth BC as it seeks to remedy this breach.
Great Yarmouth BC made a self-referral to the regulator in August 2022 as it had identified a potential failure to meet statutory health and safety requirements in some of its homes. Great Yarmouth BC told us that its Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) were not suitable or sufficient, and a number of fire risk actions were overdue. Great Yarmouth BC also shared the findings of a recent internal audit that had found no assurance across a range of areas namely fire, gas, electrical, asbestos and water safety.
As a registered provider, Great Yarmouth BC is required to comply with the consumer standards, including the Home Standard. The Home Standard requires registered providers to have a cost-effective repairs and maintenance service and to meet all applicable statutory requirements that provide for the health and safety of tenants in their homes.
In respect of fire safety, Great Yarmouth BC has a statutory duty [footnote 1] to complete a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk of fire and to take precautions to prevent the risk of fire. A recent fire safety management review commissioned by the Council found that FRAs in place were neither suitable nor sufficient and could not be relied upon. As a result, Great Yarmouth BC is completing new FRAs for all of its stock. This amounts to almost 200 FRAs. The Council also identified a small number of high risk actions overdue for at least six months.
Alongside specific statutory duties in relation to gas, electrical, asbestos and water safety, Great Yarmouth BC also has a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to conduct its undertakings in such a way that third parties (including tenants) are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. The Council’s internal audit identified failings across these areas of health and safety compliance. This included a lack of reconciliation between management systems. This meant the Council did not have up to date records of health and safety compliance and therefore did not have assurance that all required checks and remedial actions had been undertaken.
The regulator considered the case as a potential breach of part 1.2 of the Home Standard and has concluded that Great Yarmouth BC did not have an effective system in place to allow it to meet its statutory health and safety responsibilities across a range of areas, and to demonstrate that it was compliant across these areas.
Complying with statutory health and safety requirements is a fundamental responsibility of all registered providers because of the potential for serious harm to tenants. Great Yarmouth BC has demonstrated to the regulator that it understands the work it needs to undertake to ensure the required statutory checks and relevant safety actions are completed. However, taking into account the seriousness of the issues and the number of tenants potentially affected, the regulator has concluded that Great Yarmouth BC has breached the Home Standard and that there was a risk of serious detriment to tenants during this period.
Section 198A of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (as amended) states that the regulator’s regulatory and enforcement powers may be used if a registered provider has failed to meet a consumer standard. In order to use regulatory or enforcement powers, as well as the failure to meet the standard, there should also be reasonable grounds to suspect that the failure has resulted in a serious detriment to the provider’s tenants (or potential tenants) or that there is a significant risk that, if no action is taken by the regulator, the failure will result in a serious detriment to the provider’s tenants (or potential tenants).
Great Yarmouth BC has put in place a programme to rectify these failures and the regulator will therefore not take statutory action at this stage, as it has assurance that the breach of the standard is being remedied. The regulator will work with Great Yarmouth BC as it continues to address the issues that have led to this situation, including ongoing monitoring of how it delivers its programme.
About our Regulatory Notices
Regulatory notices are issued in response to an event of regulatory importance (for example, a finding of a breach of the Rent Standard or of a consumer standard that has or may cause serious harm) that, in accordance with its obligation to be transparent, the regulator wishes to make public. More detail about Regulatory notices is set out in Regulating the Standards.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 ↩