Industry News

New safety watchdog tells builders to 'get your act together'

Builders of high rise tower blocks with poor fire safety records have been warned they will be targeted for prosecutions by their new watchdog. The new chief inspector Peter Baker said he

was “determined the new building safety regime prevents anything like the Grenfell tragedy from ever happening again” and he hoped to avoid any repeat of the building safety crisis that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of leaseholders facing huge bills to fix fire safety faults. Mr Baker said the regulator would deter

builders from “dodging and weaving” safety responsibilities and he warned firms to “pull their bootstraps up” or they were risking stiff sanctions being imposed on them. The new safety regime which is similar to

that used in high risk industries, will give builders, developers and owners “risk ownership” for overall safety rather than the current system of relying on signoff by a building inspector. The new regulator has the power to mount

both civil and criminal prosecutions, which the Government hopes will act as a major incentive to the building sector to improve its practices, nearly four years on from the appalling fire at Grenfell Tower. The new national watchdog for England

will have to check projects at three key stages: planning approval, start of construction and handover. If it is not satisfied, it can stop works from proceeding. It is planning on recruiting 700 staff including fire experts and engineers to vet buildings. The new system also takes significant

building control powers away from local authorities. The Grenfell Tower inquiry heard that the building inspector at Kensington and Chelsea Council was overwhelmed with work after budget cutbacks, left him with 130 jobs on his hands at the same time as the high-rise tower was being refurbished. “A measure of our success will be the

absence of these sorts of disasters,” Baker said. “Industry needs to get on with this and anticipate what’s coming. We are not shy of taking enforcement action and we will do that from day one if necessary.” He said the public had “lost complete

confidence in the construction industry’s ability to build safe and good-quality buildings”, and he told the industry: “You need to get your act together.” He said his intent was to “give residents confidence the new regulatory regime is going to prevent this sort of issue arising again”.

Housing body introduces new professional standards

and behaviour which underpin the work that housing professionals do every day. With more than 100 years experience in learning


and knowledge, the CIH has collaborated with hundreds of members, tenants and residents, housing organisations and other professional bodies to develop a set of standards that can be used by everyone working in housing, whatever their role or specialism. The standards identify seven professional

characteristics which encourage individuals to reflect on their professional development needs and identify where they can make positive changes. By using the standards, individuals can demonstrate their dedication to the sector, develop new and existing behaviours and champion the role housing professionals play in making a difference to the residents and communities they work with every day. Gavin Smart, chief executive of CIH said: “We’re

delighted to introduce this first phase of our professionalism work, the CIH professional standards. We want every housing professional to be recognised for their knowledge, behaviours, resilience and dedication to the sector. “I believe that by applying the characteristics and

standards, the housing profession will gain a higher degree of trust and credibility. It’s from this position of trust that we can best achieve our purpose – to create a future in which everyone has a place to call home.” The seven characteristics are as follows:

• Integrity: A housing professional has a clear understanding of their values and acts in accordance with them – they will do the right thing, for the right reasons, based on the best evidence and without partiality.

6 | HMM April/May 2021 |

he Chartered Institute of Housing has introduced a new set of professional standards setting out the knowledge, skills

• Inclusive: A housing professional acts transparently and fairly; builds good relationships; and works collaboratively with partners, customers and communities to achieve better outcomes.

• Ethical: A housing professional acts fairly and makes choices and decisions by applying principles and values consistently. They understand the impact that poor decisions can have both on people’s lives and the reputation of their organisation and they challenge unethical practice in a fair and considered way.

• Knowledgeable: A housing professional has relevant and up-to-date practical and specialist knowledge as required by their job role, understands the bigger picture and has a passion for continuous learning.

• Skilled: A housing professional equips themselves with the relevant skills to deliver effective services to tenants, customers, colleagues and partners.

• Advocate: A housing professional acts as an ambassador for the wider housing sector and an advocate for the housing profession.

• Leadership: Housing professionals at all levels should demonstrate leadership, be forward- thinking and create opportunities. They find solutions to improve outcomes for their organisation, tenants and communities and demonstrate their ability to adapt to the latest ideas, situations and change.

In the coming months, the CIH will introduce new tools and materials that work alongside the professional standards to further support individuals and organisations on their professionalism journey. This will include a self- assessment function to score against each of the standards, exciting new training and development content and evolving materials to boost housing professionals’ knowledge and skills.

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