No government action on product safety a year after landmark report

The government has failed to respond to a key post-Grenfell construction product safety report a year after its publication.

Report co-author Paul Morrell has consistently hit out at the government for its lack of action on the sweeping independent review into the UK’s construction product testing regime, which was released a year ago on Saturday (20 April).

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), which commissioned the report, could not confirm to Construction News what progress it had made on the report’s 21 recommendations.

DLUHC said it was committed to reforming the UK’s construction product regime, adding it was considering the report’s recommendations and will set out next steps “soon”.

The government commissioned an independent review into the construction products testing regime in the wake of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, which heard that tests run by certification bodies were “manipulated”. It appointed former government construction advisor Paul Morrell and veteran lawyer Anneliese Day to review the regulatory landscape.

The report contained 21 recommendations for government and industry, including a joint government-industry action plan on product safety and new legal duties for product certification bodies.

The authors heavily criticised how government had enforced existing construction product regulations, writing that enforcement had been “almost totally non-existent, so that bad actors feel they can bypass the regulations without consequence”.

In March, Morrell told the Futurebuild conference in London that he did not expect anything to happen before the next general election, adding that he has “no clue what changes are coming”.

He told the parliamentary levelling-up select committee last November that the government had not spoken to him since the report was published.

Committee chair Clive Betts wrote to housing minister Lee Rowley in February asking the government to respond to each of the report’s recommendations in turn.

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

Peter Caplehorn, chief executive of the Construction Products Association (CPA), said his organisation supported all 21 recommendations.

After the report came out, the CPA set out a special interest group in its technical committee to respond to its recommendations. Caplehorn said the CPA was organising its responses into one document which it will share with the Construction Leadership Council, Paul Morrell, DLUHC and relevant ministers.

Caplehorn said: “We are hopeful that taken together, this work will inform a broader reform of the product testing and certification sector and for the wide culture and practices of UK construction.”

Iain McIlwee, chief executive of the Finishes & Interiors Sector, said the CPA had led a great collective effort from the product manufacturers’ perspective.

He said: “Central to the document is a system-based approach and exploring that raises some challenging questions around where and how responsibility rests for each of us when delivering a building.”

“Whilst the report zones in on products, it does need consideration from the wider supply chain.”

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