12 changes to existing clauses and 16 new clauses have been proposed by opposition and backbench MPs
The Building Safety Bill will be debated in parliament from today as opposition and backbench MPs table dozens of amendments and new clauses in a bid to change the legislation.
The landmark 208-page bill, which is intended to revolutionise the way residential buildings are constructed and maintained, will begin its line-by-line reading in the House of Commons today, continuing on Thursday.
Chris Pincher, housing minister, has tabled an amendment to ensure all owners of residential units in higher-risk buildings are classed as “relevant persons” and therefore required to be helped by the regulator. Previously, the section of the act mentioned residents, accountable persons, building safety managers and duty holders, but did not explicitly include all owners.
In addition to the government amendments, 12 changes to existing clauses and 16 new clauses have been proposed by opposition and backbench MPs (see box below).
A cross-party group of MPs, led by Conservative rebel Stephen McPartland, has proposed a raft of amendments designed to help protect leaseholders from extra costs.
The group is proposing a new clause allowing the recovery of Value Added Tax on building safety work carried out since the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, and would make future supplies of goods and materials for building safety work zero-rated. It would also allow refunds for work already carried out for leaseholders.
The group is proposing several changes to the bill to make it easier for claims to be brought against developers for shoddy building work. It proposes extending the period for claims under the Defective Premises Act 1972 from 15 to 25 years and allowing a period of up to a year to obtain evidence to issue claims, instead of 90 days. The group has also tabled an amendment to allow councils to designate buildings as defective and to provide grant support for remediation work. It also wants the government to establish a comprehensive fund to provide grants for remediation work funded by levies on developers.
Labour MPs Mike Amesbury and Ruth Cadbury are attempting to amend the bill to ensure risks due to climate change are taken into account in the regulator’s functions, that government be required to define ‘higher-risk building’ lower than 18 metres in height and to exempt social housing from a proposed levy for building control on higher-risk approvals.
Under Labour’s proposals residents of buildings would receive information about the building’s ownership and the Housing Ombudsman would have to consult tenants about complaints.
Labour also wants to create a new public works agency to oversee a programme of cladding remediation.
The Building Safety Bill in its current form proposes establishing a new building safety regulator with the power to remove products from the market, a requirement for developers to remain members of a New Homes Ombudsman Scheme, a retrospective right for leaseholders to sue developers for up to 15 years after a home is completed, and a legal requirement for building owners to explore alternatives to passing remediation costs on to leaseholders.
There are also measures to ensure there are clearly identified people responsible for safety during the design, build and occupation of a high-rise residential building and a gateway point system to ensure building safety regulatory requirements are met at different stages of the planning process.
The government (Chris Pincher, housing minister)
The government has tabled amendments designed to:
- ensure owners of residential units withing higher-risk buildings are classed as ‘relevant persons’ and therefore required to be helped by the regulator
- allow the regulator to levy ‘charges’ and not just ‘fees’ for works carried out
Cross-party group (Stephen McPartland, Royston Smith, Sir Roger Gale, Bob Blackman, Dr Matthew Offord, Clive Lewis, Harriet Harman and Caroline Nokes)
This group has tabled amendments designed to:
- allow recovery of VAT on building safety remedial works paid since 14 June 2017 and make future supplies of materials, goods and services for building safety remediation projects zero-rated for VAT
- require the landlord to obtain any retrospective VAT refund and to credit the whole amount of that VAT refund to leaseholders.
- extend the period for claims under the Defective Premises Act 1972 and the Building Act 1984 from 15 to 25 years
- allowsa period of up to 1 year, instead of 90 days, to obtain the necessary expert evidence required to issue viable claims under the Defective Premises Act 1972 and the Building Act 1984.
- amend the Housing Act 1985 to the government and local authorities to designate dwellings with cladding and fire safety defects as defective and to provide grant support for remediation funded by levies on developers and insurers
- place a duty on the secretary of state to consider making designations to provide funding for cladding and fire safety remediation and for Parliament to approve the plans for doing so
- require the government to establish a comprehensive fund to provide grants to remediate cladding and fire safety defects of all descriptions, paid for by levies on developers, building insurers and mortgage lenders.
- changes to implied terms in contracts to strengthen consumer rights for future buyers by requiring houses and flats to be built, and renovated, to reasonable standards of quality in a way which is compliant in all material respects with the law and with building regulations.
Labour (Mike Amesbury, shadow housing minister and Ruth Cadbury, shadow planning minister)
Labour have tabled amendments designed to:
- ensure mitigating building safety risks due to climate change are taken into account
- set up a new works agency to oversee a programme of cladding remediation
- remove social housing from a proposed building control approval levy on higher-risk buildings
- require the government to define high-risk buildings which are under 18 metres in height
- ensure residents receive information about the ownership of the building
- ensure the Housing Ombudsman consults tenants about complaints
- ensure the Government publishes an assessment considering the impact of the building safety risks on leaseholders, and whether further specific mental health support is required
- require the government to publish an assessment considering the impact of the building safety crisis on leaseholder access to mortgage finance
- ensure the Government undertake a review of waking watch policies
- require ministers to provide regular written updates on the progress of the remediation programme of non-ACM cladding in line with what is currently published on ACM cladding.
Lib Dems (Daisy Cooper, deputy leader)
The Liberal Democrats have tabled amendments designed to:
- require the Secretary of State to conduct a review of formal co-operation on building safety standards across the United Kingdom, in recognition that sharing best practice could promote improved building safety standards in all four nations.
- require the Secretary of State to conduct an assessment of the state of building safety and fire safety defect remediation in England.