IN BRIEF

New construction materials regulator announced in response to Grenfell revelations

London

20 January 2021

The UK’s housing secretary Robert Jenrick has announced the formation of a new regulator to monitor the safety of construction products, after the Grenfell Inquiry found evidence of industry malpractice.

The new regulator will be able to remove products from the market which present significant safety risks, as well as prosecute companies who flout safety rules. Jenrick cited “dishonest practice” laid bare by the ongoing Grenfell Inquiry.

“The Grenfell Inquiry has heard deeply disturbing allegations of malpractice by some construction product manufacturers and their employees and of the weaknesses of the present product testing regime,” Jenrick said.

“We are establishing a national regulator to address these concerns and a review into testing to ensure our national approach is fit for purpose,” he continued. “We will continue to listen to the evidence emerging in the inquiry and await the judge’s ultimate recommendation – but it is already clear that action is required now and that is what we are doing.”

Among the revelations to come out of the inquiry was a testimony that Celotex, which produces the foam insulation used at Grenfell Tower, had cheated in the fire safety tests for their panels.

The new regulator will operate under the aegis of the Office for Product Safety and Standards. In addition to a £10m expansion of that office, the government has launched an independent review to examine the flaws of previous testing systems for construction products. The review will report their findings later in 2021.