Government spends £42m on hiring building-safety inspectors

The government has announced plans to spend £42m on recruiting more than 200 building inspectors and fire-protection officers to support its new high-rise building safety regime.

About 110 building inspectors and 111 fire-protection officers will be recruited and trained over the next three years, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said.  

The move is part of a government effort to boost standards under the post-Grenfell Building Safety Act, which came into force last year. 

Since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, there has been a shortage of building inspectors and fire-safety experts. In 2020, a committee of MPs warned that cladding remediation work was at risk due to a lack of fire-safety experts

Specialists have been in high demand as developers, builders, freeholders and insurers have sought to understand whether their buildings are safe following widespread fears over combustible cladding and poor construction work, as well as shifting building-safety requirements.  

Under the new package, £16.5m will go to Local Authority Building Control (LABC), the not-for-profit body that represents local authority building-control teams in England and Wales, and £26m to England’s Fire and Rescue Services and the National Fire Chiefs Council.

Lorna Stimpson, LABC’s chief executive, said: “Building-control surveyors are a scarce commodity and so it’s important that we start to invest in this previously underfunded but vital public service role.”

The new building-control inspectors, fire inspectors and fire engineers will work as “local partner regulators” to the Building Safety Regulator (BSR), which was established last year as part of the post-Grenfell measures. The BSR operates within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). 

DLUHC said the new recruits would oversee the “safety and standards of the design, construction and management of higher-risk buildings, as well as strengthening the sector as a whole”. 

Lee Rowley, minister for building safety, said: “This taxpayer funding will give additional resource to local regulators, who will support the work of the regulator in making buildings safer.”

Peter Baker, chief inspector of buildings at the HSE, added: “I welcome the work to quickly increase capability and capacity so our regulatory partners can deliver their important roles.” 

Latest official figures show that of the 464 high-rise blocks with Grenfell-style aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding, 357 have had remediation work fully completed.

In addition, hundreds of other buildings with dangerous non-ACM cladding, or fire-safety defects, are being worked on, as the building safety crisis drags on.

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