New building safety measures announced

13 January 2022

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, announced new measures to protect leaseholders from building safety costs on 10 January. Since the announcement, we have received further clarification from the Secretary of State on how our sector will be affected by these changes.

In his letter, Michael Gove set out a strong and welcome commitment to increasing the supply of social housing and improving the quality of existing homes – and offers to work closely with our sector to achieve this.

Below you will find a summary of the measures, details of how we expect them to affect our sector, and our plans to engage with the government.

A new £4bn fund for 11-18m buildings

The government announced that it plans to establish a new £4bn fund to cover the cost of remediating unsafe cladding on buildings between 11m and 18m. The funding will be sourced from developers, and the government has confirmed that housing associations will not be expected to contribute to this funding pot. However, in his letter the Secretary of State encourages housing associations to recover remediation costs from responsible parties where possible, and absorb any costs that they themselves are responsible for. 

The government has made it clear that it does not expect leaseholders to have to foot the bill for any building safety costs. We are therefore working with the government to clarify how non-cladding related works will be paid for, as well as details of how housing associations can access the £4bn funding.

There is no new funding for housing association buildings that do not have leaseholders. However, the Secretary of State has acknowledge housing associations’ unique social purpose and the impact that building safety costs have on the sector’s wider work, and has offered to work closely with the sector to mitigate this impact.

You can read more about funding for remediation here

Withdrawal of the consolidated advice note

The Consolidated Advice Note on building safety has been withdrawn with immediate effect. It has been replaced with a new Publicly Available Specification (PAS 9980), which contains risk-based guidance for assessing external wall systems.

In his letter, the Secretary of State emphasised his desire to take a more risk-based approach to assessing building safety risks and he has made a number of changes, summarised below, with this intention.

You can read more about government advice on remediation here.

Commencement of the Fire Safety Act

The Secretary of State confirmed that the Fire Safety Act will commence shortly. When the act comes into force, it will extend fire safety responsibilities to cover all external walls and common parts, including doors to individual flats, in any multi-occupied building regardless of height. We will seek clarity from the Home Office on a precise date for commencement.

Other measures announced:

  • A new scheme will be brought forward to provide professional indemnity insurance for building assessors, to help increase capacity in this field.
  • Buildings between 11m and 18m in height will be considered safe unless there is evidence to the contrary. The Secretary of State’s letter acknowledges that some of these buildings will need remediation, but encourages housing associations to challenge judgements from building assessors that they believe may be excessively risk averse.
  • The Building Safety Fund will be reviewed to ensure it is in line with the government’s expectations of a risk-driven approach to remedial works, and information on the progress of applications to the funds will be made available to residents.