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Regulator issues notice against council over failure to carry out housing safety inspections

The Regulator of Social Housing has issued a regulatory notice against Norwich City Council after the local authority was found to have more than a thousand overdue housing safety inspections.

The regulator concluded that Norwich had failed to meet statutory health and safety requirements in relation to fire, electrical, asbestos and water safety, following a self-referral by the council.

According to the notice, more than a thousand electrical inspections were overdue, including two hundred communal tests.

In addition, the local authority was behind on "hundreds" of legionella risk assessments, and a number of fire risk assessments.

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In the cases concerning fire risk assessments and electrical safety, Norwich was unable to provide the regulator with evidence of any efforts to remedy the failings.

The local authority was also unable to produce any data on either communal or domestic asbestos surveys, including whether any were overdue or had outstanding remedial actions.

Taking this information into account, the regulator concluded that Norwich had breached the Home Standard.

As a consequence of the faults there was the potential for "serious detriment to tenants," the notice said.

The Home Standard requires registered providers to have a cost-effective repairs and maintenance service and to meet all applicable statutory requirements that provide for the health and safety of tenants in their homes.

In the case of Norwich, the regulator considered the failings as a potential breach of part 1.2 of the Home Standard and concluded that the city council did not have an effective system in place to allow it to meet its statutory health and safety responsibilities across a range of areas.

The regulator chose not to take statutory action because of the measures taken by Norwich to rectify the problems.

The council has appointed an independent expert to carry out a detailed check of all the key safety areas and has put an urgent work programme in place to complete all checks, risk assessments and follow up work needed.

Alan Waters, leader of the council, said: “We take full responsibility for not meeting the required standards as set out by the regulator. In plain terms, we have fallen short of what our tenants and leaseholders should be able to expect from us regarding safety checks across all our council homes.

“Our commitment to resolving this matter is unwavering. The urgent work programme we already have in place to bring all our compliance checks up to date is a priority for us and is underway.

“We feel assured that the regulator is confident our work programme will resolve the matters we brought to their attention and that no enforcement action is necessary.”

Adam Carey

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