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Interim report on fire safety released

Tuesday 02 January 2018

An interim independent review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety commissioned by the Government has been released, with the full report expected in Spring 2018. A summit of key stakeholders will also be held early in 2018.

The review follows the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017 and sets out changes to ensure the safety of residents is paramount, with a particular focus on how they apply to high-rise residential buildings. putting it ahead of costs etc.

The review is complementary to the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry, for which the final terms of reference have now been published by Sir Martin Moore-Bick and officially adopted in full by the Government. 

Dame Judith Hackitt who is heading up the review and has a background in engineering has described the current system of regulation as 'not fit for purpose' and said that a culture change is required.  

The interim report, provides a summary of what lessons have been learnt so far and identifies some early actions which should be taken as soon as possible. 

Dame Hackitt describes how the current regulations and guidance are too complex. It's often unclear where responsibilities lie, and methods of assessing the competence of those working on high-rise and complex buildings are inadequate. 

The report also finds that compliance, enforcement and sanctions are weak and that it's not easy for residents to escalate their safety concerns. 

The following interim recommendations have been made as a result of the review:

  • The Government should consider how the suite of Approved Documents could be structured and ordered to provide a more streamlined, holistic view while retaining the right level of relevant technical detail, with input from the Building Regulations Advisory Committee, and that in the meantime they should look to improve the clarity of Approved Document B. 
  • Professional and accreditation bodies should come together to form a joined-up approach so as to provide a framework for regulation to ensure that those working on the design, construction, inspection and maintenance of complex and high-risk buildings are suitably qualified.
  • Consultation with fire and rescue services by building control bodies and by those commissioning or designing buildings should take place earlier in the process so that fire safety can be fully designed in.  
  • Building developers need to ensure that there is a formal review and handover process ahead of occupation of any part of a new high-rise residential building. 
  • Building control bodies should ensure that those completing any building work pass all fire safety information onto the responsible person for the building whilst in occupation, and that proof is provided of this. 
  • Risk assessments by 'the responsible person' under the Fire Safety Order should be shared in an accessible way with residents and notified to the fire and rescue service. 
  • The government should significantly restrict the use of desktop studies to approve changes to cladding and other systems to ensure that they are only used where appropriate and with sufficient, relevant test evidence. Those undertaking desktop studies must be able to demonstrate suitable competence. 

View the full report