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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 24th February 2020.

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Photo of Derek Thomas Derek Thomas Conservative, St Ives

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will make an assessment of the (a) potential merits of making local authorities economically liable for negligence in the exercise of their building control functions and (b) effectiveness of the exercise by those authorities of those functions.

Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

As part of our reforms to building safety, we are establishing a new Building Safety Regulator which will provide enhanced oversight of the building safety regulatory system.

Building work is subject to building control either by the local authority or a private approved inspector. It is the responsibility of the building control body to take all reasonable steps to assess compliance. However, building control is a spot checking process at certain points during the building work.

A compliance certificate issued by a local authorities building control team is not an absolute guarantee of compliance and in no way removes the responsibility of compliance from the builder or installer.

If it is considered that the local authority building control team did not carry out its function properly or was negligent in the exercise of its building control functions, a complaint could be made to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO), the website for which is https://www.lgo.org.uk/.

The LGSCO is a free and impartial service to the general public, which is independent of the Government. Considering that it investigates complaints about local governments along with other authorities and organisations, it is paramount that its decisions cannot be influenced by the Government. As always, it is also possible to apply to the High Court for a judicial review to challenge an Ombudsman’s decision should it be considered to be legally flawed.

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