Building Safety Bill - Second Reading

19 July 2021

Posted on by Penny Walshe

On Wednesday 21st July, the Building Safety Bill has its second reading in Parliament.

Since the first draft of the Bill was published last year, the Government has removed important clauses which would have helped to improve electrical safety standards in High Rise Residential Buildings (HRRBs).

We have seen too many tower block fires in the last few years, with a recent fire at New Providence Wharf in London just one of a number that have been linked to an electrical source. The tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017 is one that cannot be forgotten and next month will mark five years since a faulty tumble dryer caused a fire that ripped through five stories of a Shepherds Bush high rise block.

Despite this, there is nothing in the Building Safety Bill that addresses the serious electrical safety risks faced by people living in high rise buildings.

Electrical Safety First is calling on the Government to add three improvements to the Building Safety Bill to protect lives and properties from electrical fires:

1. The introduction of mandatory electrical safety checks in all High Rise Residential Buildings (HRBBs) in England, regardless of the tenure of the properties.

At the moment, only landlords of privately rented homes are required by law to carry out an electrical safety check once every five years. However, in a tower block, private tenants live alongside owner-occupiers and social renters and there is currently no need for the owners or landlords of properties in these sectors to carry out any checks. An electrical fire in one property can have a devastating impact on all of the building’s residents so it is vital that the same checks are carried out in every home.

2. Clarification of the role and responsibilities of the “Accountable Person” in relation to electrical safety in HRRBs to ensure that tenants have confidence and clarity.

We believe that the accountable person should have responsibility for ensuring electrical safety checks are carried out and keeping a register of electrical appliances that are being used so that they can play a proactive role in the event of a product recall. They should also provide advice and information on electrical safety, and Electrical Safety First would be keen to work with management companies in the development and delivery of this guidance.

3. Reinstatement of the Clause on Electrical Safety ‘Residents’ Responsibilities’.

The draft version of the Bill required residents to make sure that items were “in repair and proper working order”. This has now been removed – taking away a clear direction that would help ensure that electrical installations and appliances are kept in good working order.

 

We hope that MPs will support these vital improvements to the Bill, helping to tackle the unique and serious electrical safety risks faced by residents of high rise buildings.

You can read our full Parliamentary Briefing here.

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