Housing secretary urged to act on construction-product report

The leader of a Commons inquiry has called on the housing secretary to respond to an independent review into the testing of construction products.

Labour MP Clive Betts, chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities select committee’s fire-safety inquiry, has written to housing secretary Lee Rowley asking the government to publish a document responding to each recommendation in a review published last year.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) commissioned former government construction advisor Paul Morrell and legal expert Anneliese Day in April 2021 to produce a review of construction-product regulation, in the wake of concerns raised during the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Their report, Testing for a Safer Future, was published in April 2023. It questioned the ability of two new regulators created under the Building Safety Act – the National Regulator for Construction Products and the Building Safety Regulator – to effectively enforce stricter standards.

The report also said that the enforcement of historic construction-product rules had been “almost totally non-existent, so that bad actors feel that they can bypass the regulations without consequence”.

Betts said in a statement: “The government established this review to look at issues of product safety but, almost 10 months on from publication, the government is still to respond.

“It’s important the government publishes a full response urgently to kick-start dialogue with industry and help ensure that the fire risk of materials and products used in buildings is minimised effectively.”

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities select committee opened its inquiry into fire safety in July 2023, to explore the findings of Morrell and Day’s independent review.

Speaking to the inquiry last month, Rowley said his department was working through internally whether it would issue a formal response to the report.

Report co-author Morrell told the inquiry in November that he had barely spoken to the government since publishing the review.

Betts’ letter also asks for clarification on UK standards for internal and external fire doors, which DLUHC director Chandru Dissanayeke told the inquiry last month had been harmonised with EU regulations.

Betts also called on the government to publish DLUHC-commissioned research, presented in 2020, which looked at more than 3,000 construction-product standards associated with testing.

Construction News contacted Rowley for comment.

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