Posted: Tue 1st Aug 2023

Audit Wales: Fears raised that new building safety regime is not being prioritised and resourced

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Aug 1st, 2023


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An audit report has revealed significant weaknesses in the implementation of building safety measures in Wales, raising concerns about the ability to meet the new requirements of the Building Safety Act 2022.

This comes years after the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, which led to the deaths of 72 people and prompted the UK government to launch the Hackitt Inquiry—an independent review into building regulations and fire safety.

The inquiry exposed serious and longstanding issues within the current building safety system.

The report indicates that while the UK and Welsh Governments have prioritised improvements in the oversight of building safety to prevent another Grenfell-scale disaster, there is considerable uncertainty about the application of the new scheme.

Despite welcoming changes to Building Control and Building Safety, those tasked with these enhancements are reportedly not well-positioned to implement them.

Consequently, local authorities and fire and rescue services, despite having a good understanding of local building safety risks, lack clarity on how to meet the requirements of the Building Safety Act 2022.

The audit found widespread problems in the building control and building safety profession, including significant staffing challenges, ageing workforce, poor succession planning, and lack of investment in training and development.

These issues raise concerns about the resilience of local authorities and their ability to deliver their responsibilities effectively.

The report also expressed specific concerns about the financial management of building control. Current practices in some local authorities could be potentially unlawful, as they don’t align with the regulations and guidance.

Auditor General, Adrian Crompton, called the Grenfell Tower fire a national tragedy whose impact is still felt today. He said, “My report highlights major concerns with the implementation of the new system for Building Safety. Although it’s heartening to see the passion and commitment from those working in the sector, I am concerned that not enough priority is being given to these services on the ground.”

The report recommends that the Welsh Government and local authorities provide greater clarity on the new Building Safety Act’s implementation, ensure sufficient resources to reduce implementation risks, and increase oversight to provide a robust assurance system for building control and safety.

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