Fire Safety Bill – update

April 27, 2021

Consideration of a Commons amendment to the Fire Safety Bill took place in the House of Lords on 20 April. The Bill was returned to the Commons for consideration of Lords amendments.

The government was defeated for a third time in the Lords over its plans for who pays for fire safety work on buildings in light of the Grenfell tragedy. Peers changed the Fire Safety Bill again to prevent owners of blocks of flats passing the costs for remedial work on to leaseholders.

They argued a government grants and loan scheme should be in place first. The government says the changes are “inappropriate and unworkable”.

Peers voted by a majority of 86 to reinsert provisions to shield residents from having to foot the bill for safety improvements. A previous attempt by them to introduce the changes was rejected by MPs in March.

The Fire Safety Bill was brought forward to strengthen regulations following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 which killed 72 people.

There has been an intense debate about who should pick up the costs for works such as changes to emergency exits, after inspections found many other flats were covered in combustible cladding.

Housing, Communities and Local Government minister, Lord Greenhalgh, opened the debate by telling peers it was “time to accept the will of the democratic chamber”.

He said MPs had twice rejected the moves to change the legislation and he warned it would “ultimately cost lives” if the legislation was further delayed.

He added that ministers had brought forward an “unprecedented” package of support to “alleviate the burden” on leaseholders.

In February, the government announced it was putting £3.5bn towards removing unsafe cladding from buildings more than 18m high – on top of £1.6bn for cladding removal announced last year.

It said flat owners in lower-rise blocks would be able to access loans to cover repair work and repayments would be capped at £50 a month. But the schemes – which take the form of grants and loans – have not been introduced yet and flat owners say they still face costs of up to £50,000 for other works and insurance premiums.

The Bill will now return to the Commons again in what is known as parliamentary “ping pong” – the term used when legislation goes back and forth between the Commons and Lords as they reject each others’ changes.

 

This is valid as of 27th April 2021.

Consideration of a Commons amendment to the Fire Safety Bill took place in the House of Lords on 20 April. The Bill was returned to the Commons for consideration of Lords amendments. The government was defeated for a third time in the Lords over its plans for who pays for fire safety work on buildings in light of the Grenfell tragedy. Peers changed the Fire Safety Bill again to prevent owners of blocks of flats passing the costs for remedial work on to leaseholders. They argued a government grants and loan scheme should be in place first. The government says the changes are “inappropriate and unworkable”. Peers voted by a majority of 86 to reinsert provisions to shield residents from having to foot the bill for safety improvements. A previous attempt by them to introduce the changes was rejected by MPs in March. The Fire Safety Bill was brought forward to strengthen regulations following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 which killed 72 people. There has been an intense debate about who should pick up the costs for works such as changes to emergency exits, after inspections found many other flats were covered in combustible cladding. Housing, Communities and Local Government minister, Lord Greenhalgh, opened the debate by telling peers it was “time to accept the will of the democratic chamber”. He said MPs had twice rejected the moves to change the legislation and he warned it would “ultimately cost lives” if the legislation was further delayed. He added that ministers had brought forward an “unprecedented” package of support to “alleviate the burden” on leaseholders. In February, the government announced it was putting £3.5bn towards removing unsafe cladding from buildings more than 18m high - on top of £1.6bn for cladding removal announced last year. It said flat owners in lower-rise blocks would be able to access loans to cover repair work and repayments would be capped at £50 a month. But the schemes - which take the form of grants and loans - have not been introduced yet and flat owners say they still face costs of up to £50,000 for other works and insurance premiums. The Bill will now return to the Commons again in what is known as parliamentary “ping pong” – the term used when legislation goes back and forth between the Commons and Lords as they reject each others’ changes.   This is valid as of 27th April 2021.

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