On 21st July, the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, announced that the Government will support the recommendations in an independent expert statement on the building safety in medium and lower-rise blocks of flats. The independent expert statement was commissioned by the Government earlier in the year to consider issues of proportionality in relation to building safety in medium and lower-rise blocks of flats, the impact on the housing market, and what more the Government could do to ensure approaches are proportionate to the level of risk.
The statement makes the following recommendations:-
EWS1 forms should not be a requirement on buildings below 18 metres.
In the small number of cases where there are known to be concerns, these should be addressed primarily through risk management and mitigation.
There should be a clear route for residents/leaseholders to challenge costly remediation work and seek assurance that proposals are proportionate and cost effective.
The Government should work with the shadow Building Safety Regulator to consider how to implement an audit process to check that fire risk assessments are following guidelines.
Fire risk assessors, and lenders, should not presume that there is significant risk to life unless there is evidence to support this. This would ensure that they respond only to the evidence and adopt a far more proportionate and balanced approach.
Following the advice in the published statement, HSBC UK, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group have committed to review their practices and the Government is expecting other lenders to follow suit.
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