Building safety rules not part of PM’s ‘red tape’ cuts

There will be no disruption to building safety legislation being implemented despite the prime minister’s plans to remove regulation of industry, Construction News understands.

Since taking power in September, Liz Truss and chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng have expressed their desire to cut red tape to promote growth within the UK economy.

In a speech at the Conservative Party Conference last week, Truss promised to tackle “barriers” facing businesses, saying burdens on them were “too high”.

She said regulation under her watch would be “pro-business and pro-growth”, adding that burdensome regulation had led to years of delays for infrastructure projects and were “choking the economy”.

The messaging led to concerns within the sector about work to improve health and safety, prompting questions about the future of the Building Safety Act and the new Building Safety Regulator (BSR), measures brought in following the Grenfell Tower fire.

However, a source in the government has told Construction News informal – but firm – messages from the top of Whitehall are that the prime minister will continue with plans to move forward with the building safety agenda.

They said: “[The government has] categorically said they are looking at deregulation, but will not be changing anything on health and safety.”

In June, new building safety regulations came into force including creating a construction products regulator and increasing the liability for developers and contractors for building defects from six to 30 years.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) told CN the government remained committed to the building safety agenda laid down by the previous regime.

They pointed to comments by levelling up secretary Simon Clarke in September, who promised to “finish the job” on improving safety standards.

He said at the time: “We’ve already acted on energy bills […] and we’re acting with that same urgency on building safety.

“What happened at Grenfell Tower was nothing short of a national tragedy […and] it is our duty as a government to fix this, and ensure that it never happens again.”

Clarke, who was appointed to the role in early September, added: “I’m determined to finish the job my predecessors started, fixing the system for good, ensuring that industry rectifies the problems it created.”

Earlier this week the government launched legal action against a developer over a tower block in Stevenage which has suffered two years of delays to fire remediation works – the first action of its type.

The developer owns the 15-storey Vista Tower, and has been given 21 days to commit to remediation works to fix fire safety defects or face legal action.

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