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Dame Judith Hackitt has said there are some housing providers who are making fire safety “too complicated” when it doesn’t need to be.
She said there were instances of organisations “getting obsessed in the details” and that “there is a balance between getting this right and making it a challenge of bureaucracy.”
Speaking at the National Housing Federation’s Building Safety event, Hackitt, who is the chair of the Industry Safety Steering Group and the author of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, spoke about the latest legislation and how the sector can move forward.
She welcomed the Building Safety and Fire Safety Bills making their way through parliament, as well as the new regulator for construction materials.
However, she said we “would have liked to have seen this move faster” but that as it is systemic failure, it takes more time.
Expanding on that, Hackitt added: “Setting things right for the future is important, but addressing the mistakes of the past is equally important.
“It is not just for government to fix this and that is why I have been so keen on culture change in the sector.
“We are seeing some evidence of that but not enough. It should not be for residents to pay for defects of buildings, but neither is it for the taxpayer to foot the whole bill.”
She also spoke of the importance of “getting it right this time” and said some of the responses from industry has been “unwarranted”.
Pointing towards the £0 valuations as a good example of this, Hackitt added: “What we have seen around valuations of £0 just because there is cladding on the building is ridiculous. They aren’t worth £0 just because there is cladding on.”
She said these reactions had caused unnecessary stress for some residents, when their building may be safe.
She also stated: “Not all cladding is unsafe, remediation needs to be done on the highest risk first and we must keep that perspective.”
Using Trafford Housing Trust as an example of good practice, she said others should be following their lead in terms of resident engagement, care for residents and that they didn’t wait to be told they had to work on this, they did it anyway.
“If Trafford and others can do this and makes a success of it, this raises a few issues, why aren’t others doing the same? That has a lot to do with leadership.
“Secondly, how do we help those who want to do it but need support? This is about good practice sharing.
“Thirdly, we need to find a way of differentiating leaders. We need to have strong implications for those that aren’t doing it but that needs to be balanced with positive reinforcement when people do the right thing.”