Government establishes new regulator to ensure safety of construction materials

The UK Government has taken action to combat the ‘dishonest practice’ by some manufacturers following the ongoing Grenfell Inquiry.

The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, has today announced that residents will be protected through the establishment of a national regulator which will ensure that the materials used to build homes are safer.

The new regulator will have the authority to remove a product from the market if it is deemed to present a significant safety risk and any companies that flout the rules will face severe prosecution.

The inquiry into the 2017 disaster has shone a light onto practices of a dishonest nature which include conscious attempts to rig the results of safety tests. To tackle the issue, the regulator will be given strong enforcement powers, one being the ability to conduct its own product-testing when investigating any concerns.

Jenrick said: “The Grenfell Inquiry has heard deeply disturbing allegations of malpractice by some construction product manufacturers and their employees. We are establishing a national regulator to address these concerns and a review into testing to ensure our national approach is fit for purpose.”

This has made it even more imperative for a business to put their products through rigorous testing regimes before taking them to market. Products should also be tested against safety standards.

It is already clear that action is required now and that is what we are doing.

The housing secretary went on to add: “We will continue to listen to the evidence emerging and await the judge’s ultimate recommendation – but it is already clear that action is required now and that is what we are doing.”

The Government plans to fundamentally overhaul regulatory systems and this marks the beginning of the next chapter in that phase. This was outlined in the summer of 2020 where the publication of an ambitious draft Building Safety Bill represented the biggest improvement to regulations in 40 years.

Chair of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, Dame Judith Hackitt, was instrumental in driving this change following her report on the Grenfell tragedy. She said: “This is another really important step in delivering the new regulatory system for building safety. The evidence of poor practice and lack of enforcement in the past has been laid bare. As the industry itself starts to address shortcomings I see a real opportunity to make great progress in conjunction with the national regulator.”

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