Building Control Charging Regime

Communities and Local Government written statement – made at on 2 April 2009.

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Photo of Iain Wright Iain Wright Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government)

I am today publishing a consultation document on proposed changes to the local authority (LA) building control charging regime in England and Wales.

The principle of empowering LAs to charge for carrying out their main building control functions related to building regulations has been Government policy since the late 1970s. It derives from the "user pays" principle and avoids putting further pressure on all those who pay council tax. The charge-setting process was devolved to individual LAs in 1999 through The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998.

Following representations from stakeholders, we carried out a review of the charging regime and developed a number of proposals to address the perceived deficiencies and modernise the charging system. We consulted on the broad principles of the proposed approach as part of the consultation on the "Future of Building Control" last year and received support from the majority of respondents.

We are now seeking views on the detailed proposals which will build on the current devolved charge-setting process to LAs in order to:

Introduce more flexibility and discretion, remove some restrictions and ambiguities, and enable LAs to more accurately relate their charges to the actual costs of carrying out their main building control functions (that is, plan checking and inspections) for individual building projects as appropriate, thereby providing fairer charges.

Introduce more transparency into the building control charging regime, with a view to safeguarding income.

Further improve the competitive environment within which LAs and private sector approved inspectors (AIs) compete and the standards within which they operate.

The charging proposals also reflect the fundamental changes we propose to introduce to the building control system following the "Future of Building Control" consultation, in particular introducing a risk assessment approach to inspection of building work.

This consultation, which closes on 25 June 2009, is accompanied by an impact assessment. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House. It can also be accessed via the Communities and Local Government website at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/lachargingregimeconsult