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Hackitt group seeks tougher fines for building regs breaches

Grenfell Tower

A key member of the post-Grenfell Hackitt review working groups has urged the government to help courts “get tough” with firms flouting current building regulations.

Local Authority Building Control (LABC) technical policy director Barry Turner said fines for firms breaching building regulations are often too small to be effective, while the costs of taking a contractor to court are often too high for local authority building control bodies.

A Local Government Association survey late last year showed that although average fines for firms prosecuted for failing to comply with building regulations is £5,128, local authority building control bodies spend an average of £10,753 per case on court costs.

Turner said he welcomed “constructive discussions” during a recent meeting of the Regulation and Guidance Working Group, which is assessing whether central government should be in charge of technical guidance for complex and high-risk buildings.

LABC is a member of four of the seven working groups researching ways to strengthen UK building regulations after Dame Hackitt’s initial report found them “not fit for purpose”. All seven groups will report their findings by the end of this month.

Turner said: “I am delighted to be involved in the Hackitt working group looking at how we can improve the current regulations. And I am really pleased at how everyone involved is working so constructively towards the shared goal of better regulation.

“But in addition to being ‘fit for purpose,’ regulations must also be backed up by effective enforcement against those who make no effort to comply or attempt to defraud.”

Hackitt’s final report on UK building regulations is expected to be published in late spring.

A spokesperson for the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Dame Judith Hackitt’s review will assess the effectiveness of current building regulations and related compliance and enforcement issues.”

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