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Sat July 11 2020

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Specialists seek procurement powers for new safety regulator

18 Feb A leading industry lobby group is pressing the government to give more powers to the planned Building Safety Regulator.

Dame Judith Hackitt is chair of the board overseeing the formation of the Building Safety Regulator
Dame Judith Hackitt is chair of the board overseeing the formation of the Building Safety Regulator

The Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group wants the Building Safety Regulator to have powers to police procurement behaviours as well as building safety and standards.

The Building Safety Regulator is being set up, within the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to take charge of some of the recommendations that emerged after the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire. The board overseeing its formation meets for the first time this week.

SEC Group is keen to ensure that the regulator has wide enough powers to deal with all matters affecting building safety, it said.

In her report, Building a Safer Future (published May 2018), Dame Judith Hackitt stated that building safety was being compromised by poor procurement processes (seeking lowest price outcomes) and adversarial contractual/payment practices that require small firms at the end of construction supply chains to pick up all project-related risks.

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Her report called for a collaborative partnership between building clients and their delivery teams as well as fair treatment for all suppliers.

Dame Judith Hackitt is chair of the board overseeing the transition the new Building Safety Regulator.

SEC Group wants the government, through the regulator, to draw up a code of ethical commercial behaviours and impose sanctions where the code is breached, and to promote procurement decisions based on teamworking (including all key suppliers) from the outset of project design and planning processes.

SEC Group chief executive Rudi Klein said: “Effective measures to address building safety demand a fundamental change in construction procurement processes and commercial behaviours. This has been said and repeated over many years but unless the promised legislation provides the regulator with the necessary powers and the resources to do the job properly, [secretary of state] Mr Jenrick’s expectation of transformational change is likely to be illusory.”

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