Four years on from the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower: we must have a regulatory system that’s fit for purpose

Kate Henderson, 11 June 2021

Monday 14 June marks four years since the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower. We must never forget the 72 people who lost their lives. My thoughts are with the bereaved, the survivors and everyone that continues to be affected.

We must do everything we can to ensure that people are – and feel – safe in their homes.

Over the next parliamentary year, the shape of building and fire safety regulation will take a considerable step forward. The safety of our homes is a national priority, uniting politicians and stakeholders from all parties to take action.

The new, long-awaited Building Safety Bill will be particularly important for those who continue to be affected, as it will completely reform the building and fire safety systems in higher-risk buildings. A few weeks ago, following lengthy debate, the Fire Safety Act became law and will come into force later this year when the Homes Office publishes further guidance. This was a really important milestone for residents and organisations alike, as the first new act on building safety since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

These two pieces of legislation are the beginning of much-needed changes to the laws around building safety. They will be incredibly important to support organisations to ensure the safety of people in their homes. Our key priority is that the voice of social housing is heard and our members are supported in all of the building safety legislation. We will, of course keep our members briefed as the Building Safety Bill and guidance to support the rollout of the Fire Safety Act are published.

Four years on from the Grenfell Tower fire and the public inquiry is in its second phase. The inquiry is examining the cause of the fire, the condition of the tower and where responsibilities lie, which allowed the fire to spread so rapidly. We know that all those affected by the tragedy want and deserve answers.

Resident safety is the housing association sector’s top priority. The recent fire at a block of flats in Poplar, East London was an awful reminder of the urgency and importance of this work. At the NHF, we are working hard to influence policy and shape the new, much needed, regulatory system.

We are engaging with parliamentarians at each stage of the Building Safety Bill to make sure the challenges facing the housing association sector are heard. Our focus on shaping the new system centres on ensuring that our members have the means to properly remediate buildings and make sure that residents are safe in their homes, now and in the future. During the Building Safety Bill’s pre-legislative scrutiny, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee agreed with our assessment of the need for a staggered and risk-based transition to the new regulatory system. The Committee also picked up our concerns about the draft Bill’s lack of detail on the accountable person regime and suggested that the government publish statutory guidance to resolve this issue.

Four years have passed since the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower. The safety of residents will always remain our number one priority. We will continue to work with the government to shape the new regulatory regime to ensure that inspires confidence and trust, and we will support our members to prepare for and implement the changes needed.

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