Ministry of Housing,Communities & Local Government Building Safety Programme Newsletter

Following the Grenfell Tower fire, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has established a Building Safety Programme to ensure that residents of high-rise buildings are safe and feel safe from the risk of fire, now and in the future. This email update provides the latest information and advice for landlords and building owners.

New information you may wish to see

  • The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has produced updated guidance on evacuating high-rise buildings, replacing the Waking Watch/Common Fire Alarm guidance, published in early October 2017. The guidance focuses on introducing a ‘simultaneous evacuation’ strategy in purpose-built blocks of flats where, for example due to the presence of unsafe ACM cladding, the building can no longer support the normal and preferred stay put policy in the event of a fire. Following a commitment to review the guidance after six months, the guidance has undergone amendments based on stakeholder feedback to make it clearer and more user-friendly. The main edits are:
    • Amendments to clarify and highlight the intention that a Waking Watch is only a short-term solution and a fire alarm system should be installed if the risk cannot be removed quickly.
    • There is further guidance on the information a competent person should consider in a risk assessment.
    • To clarify that the risks to persons should be considered regardless of whether the building is above or below 18 metres in height.
  • The Expert Panel has endorsed this guidance.
  • On 27 April, the Government published the latest data release setting out progress made in identifying buildings with potentially unsafe cladding systems. The next release is due in the week commencing 28 May.
  • On 19 April, Barratt Developments  advised leaseholders that they would pay for fire safety related costs in a building they developed, relieving the building’s leaseholders of this burden. The former Secretary of State welcomed the decision.
  • On 16 April, the former Secretary of State announced in Parliament that the department is taking forward further investigations regarding an issue identified with a glazed fire door from Grenfell Tower. The Expert Panel has said that more testing is required, which will take time. The Secretary of State intends to provide updates when the expert panel provides further advice, and no later than the end of May.
  • A consultation was published on 11 April regarding measures to restrict the use of assessments in lieu of tests (often referred to as desktop studies) or ban them altogether. The consultation will close on 25 May. It is in line with commitments to implement the corresponding recommendation in Dame Judith Hackitt’s interim report on Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

In case you missed it

  • To support local authorities with their work in identifying private sector residential buildings over 18 metres with potentially unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding systems, the Government will be providing further financial support totalling £1 million to assist the most affected local authorities in identifying these buildings.
  • On 6 March, the department ran a one day conference for local authorities on ensuring the safety of residents in high-rise buildings.  Attendees at the event heard from the National Fire Chiefs Council and a range of local authorities on their work to identify potentially unsafe buildings and gather information.
  • Following recent commercial large scale tests on two design variations of a cladding system comprising Category 2 ACM and Phenolic foam insulation, there has been an update to the consolidated advice for building owners following large scale testing on what the results of the tests may mean. Details of these commercial tests are available on the BRE website.
  • The department issued a letter on the same day to local authority and housing association chief executives.
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