Hackitt report: ‘In theory she’s right but in practice she could be wrong’


Dame Judith Hackitt’s report into building regulations and fire safety blames a broken system that needs fixing. So far, so uncontroversial. But her prescription for change has caused uproar right across the industry


Within 20 minutes of Dame Judith Hackitt’s 156-page report into building regulations and fire safety being released, Tottenham MP David Lammy – a personal friend of Grenfell Tower victim Khadija Saye – had already branded it a betrayal and a whitewash. Shortly after, survivors group Grenfell United professed itself to be “saddened and disappointed”. 

Hackitt can hardly be surprised at the response. Because, while the report contains many widely supported recommendations for improving the system, it is at heart guided by a profoundly controversial conclusion: that the tragic blaze was a result of building regulations being too prescriptive, not too lax. 

Hackitt has come to her conclusion given years of experience in the chemicals and oil and gas industries, which she says have successfully followed a model where it is the organisations that create risk, rather than the government, that set the rules. Hence she recommends handing control of creating building regulation guidance to the construction industry, an industry she herself admitted in January has a “mindset of doing things as cheaply as possible and passing on responsibility for problems and shortcomings to others”.

But for those arguing for more prescription, this simply adds insult to injury. And it is not only social housing residents who are worried. Many in the construction industry itself are voicing doubts as to whether it is capable of stepping up to the plate, and what kind of outcome it will create. Meanwhile there are huge concerns over what on earth the owners of unsafe tower blocks should do now to make blocks safer.

This is premium content

Only logged in subscribers have access to it.

Login or Subscribe to view this story

Existing subscriber? LOGIN OR

Take out a Premium or Digital subscription and you will get immediate access to:

  • Breaking industry news as it happens
  • Expert analysis and comment from industry leaders
  • Unlimited access to all stories, including premium content
  • Full access to all our online archive

Get access to premium content subscribe today

Alternatively REGISTER for free access on selected stories and sign up for email alerts.