The latest developments in Scotland's approach to cladding safety in the wake of the Grenfell fire.

Since the Grenfell fire in June 2017, both the UK and Scottish Governments have been actively implementing measures to better address external wall cladding and enhance fire safety standards. A significant milestone in this journey is the recent unveiling of proposals by the Scottish Government, summarised in the Housing (Cladding Remediation) Scotland Bill, released on 1st November 2023.

The primary objective of the bill is to "reduce the risk to life from unsafe cladding on people’s homes" through three key measures: granting new powers to assess cladding systems and arrange for remedial works; establishing a Cladding Assurance Register; and setting up a Responsible Developers Scheme.

The bill empowers Scottish ministers to conduct a "Single-Building Assessment" for residential flatted buildings meeting specific criteria. This includes buildings standing at 11 metres or more, constructed or developed between 11th June 1922 and 1st June 2022, and equipped with an external wall cladding system. The public can be compelled to provide relevant information for these assessments, and failure to comply may lead to criminal charges. The assessment results in a detailed report indicating whether the cladding poses a risk to life and outlines necessary remedial actions.

The bill proposes the establishment of a Cladding Assurance Register to catalogue buildings that have undergone assessment and remediation. This register aims to provide reassurance to various stakeholders, including owners, occupiers, purchasers, and lenders. Buildings will be entered into the register either after completing necessary works or if the assessment deems no remedial actions necessary.

Scottish ministers are granted authority to establish a Responsible Developers Scheme, the specifics of which will be outlined in later regulations. Notable provisions include the potential requirement for developers to make financial contributions towards assessment and remedial costs. Non-members may also face restrictions on carrying out development work, emphasising the goal of holding developers accountable for addressing dangerous cladding.

As of now, the Housing (Cladding Remediation) Scotland Bill is in its early stages and is under review by the Local Government, Housing, and Planning Committee. Public consultations are ongoing until 8th December 2023, with the committee set to report its findings on the bill by 15th March 2024. While potential amendments are yet to be seen, the current terms of the bill offer a clear insight into the Scottish Government's commitment to identifying and remediating cladding safety issues, with an emphasis on making developers share the financial burden.

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