Update on the latest government consultation on the Building Safety Levy

The NHF submitted a response to the latest consultation on the Building Safety Levy, and has made the case for measures to ensure that the levy will not have an adverse impact on the supply of affordable homes.

In late 2022, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) started consulting on the technical details and implementation of the Building Safety Levy, which is being introduced to fund the removal of unsafe cladding.

The latest consultation, which closed in February, followed an earlier consultation in the summer of 2021. At that time, it was anticipated that the levy would raise at least £2bn over a 10 year period, and would be charged on the development of residential buildings that are at least 18m in height or seven storeys high. However, the latest consultation says that £3bn is now needed, and that the levy will be charged on all new residential dwellings that require building control approval in England.

It is anticipated that the levy will be collected as part of the building control process and will be payable by the ‘client’ in relation to a development. The term ‘client’ is loosely defined as any person or organisation for whom a construction project is carried out.

The latest consultation sought views on whether the levy should be charged on a per unit or per square metre basis, and whether different rates should be set for different geographical locations and depending on whether it is a brownfield and greenfield development.

The consultation document gives no start date for the levy, but suggests a transitional arrangement whereby projects that are at commencement stage of the building control process on the date the levy goes live will not be subject to the levy, nor will projects that have entered the building control process on the date the levy comes into operation provided they commence within 12 months.

Fortunately for housing associations, the consultation anticipates a number of relevant exemptions – in particular:

  • Developments under 10 units.
  • The development of affordable housing.
  • Developments of non-affordable homes by housing associations and their wholly-owned subsidiaries. This is a result of lobbying efforts in response to the 2021 consultation.

While the NHF is supportive of the policy intent behind the Building Safety Levy, it is concerned that the levy could result in a loss of funds from the social housing sector. Therefore, in addition to endorsing the above exemptions, the NHF has called for:

  • Alternative transitional arrangements whereby all developments, for which planning permission has been granted on the date the levy goes live, will be outside its scope. This should ensure that housing developments would not need to be reconfigured should the Building Safety Levy make the intended tenure-mix unaffordable.
  • Clarification that the exemption for affordable homes will extend to all social housing developed by private housebuilders under Section 106 obligations.
  • A refund mechanism in the event that a private sector housebuilder, which originally intended to develop homes for sale on the open market, decides to sell the completed properties to a housing association instead (for example – due to changes in market conditions).
  • Clarification on how the ‘client’ in relation to a particular development should be defined (this may not be straightforward in the case of complex projects involving joint ventures).
  • A reduction in the rate of the levy where a development is carried out by a joint venture in which a housing association is a member.

It seems likely that the Building Safety Levy proposals will require considerable development, and so it may be some time before the levy is introduced. In the meantime, the NHF has requested further dialogue with DLUHC to discuss the potential impact of the levy on the social housing sector in more detail.


RSM is a leading provider of audit, tax and consulting services, with around 3,800 partners and staff in the UK. We're working with our tax advisors RSM to help shape government policy on taxation as it affects the sector and to keep housing associations informed of key issues.

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Who to speak to

Adam Gravely, Finance Policy Officer