The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
Newnham College, Cambridge, received a fine from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in January this year for failings that exposed employees and subcontractors to asbestos during refurbishment works on a flat owned by the college.
The HSE found that there were inadequate planning and management of the refurbishment work carried out on the flat. No asbestos survey was carried out prior to the insulation debris being found and one employee, who contaminated his gloves and clothing with loose asbestos debris, did not have asbestos awareness training and spread asbestos from his clothing outside the flat.
Newnham College pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5 and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The college was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,450.28.
While a fine of £12,000 is not insignificant, it is worth noting that the fines can be much higher. For example, in September 2018 Kent County Council was fined £200,000, with costs of over £21,000, for exposing primary school staff to asbestos after the school failed to act on recommendations from a survey to remove asbestos disturbed by its caretaker 18 months earlier.
Asbestos in Schools
According to the Guardian, it is thought that approximately 90% of schools in England contain asbestos. Asbestos-related diseases are currently untreatable and are thought to claim the lives of an estimated 5,000 people per year in the UK.
The use of asbestos was not banned until 1999; therefore, many schools built before 2000 will contain some form of asbestos. Typically, this may be found, in thermal insulation for pipes or walls, floor tiles, ceiling tiles and cement roofing or guttering.
Who is responsible?
Under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, anyone who has responsibility for the maintenance, repair or control of school or college premises, is a duty holder. This duty also extends to anyone who is likely to work on or disturb the asbestos.
For the majority of schools, a duty holder will be the employer, however, who the employer is will vary depending on the type of school and the legal structure of the school.
In addition, in situations where budgets for building management are delegated to schools by the local authority, the duty to manage asbestos will be shared between schools and the local authority. In these circumstances, it is likely that both parties will, therefore, have ‘duty holder’ responsibilities for the repair and maintenance of the premises.
The Duty Holder’s responsibilities include, for example, the duty to:
- Take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in premises, and if so, its amount and the condition
- Assess the risk of any asbestos that is identified
- Prepare, and keep up to date, a risk management plan
- Provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.
For more information
If you have any concerns about asbestos in schools or have any other questions in relation to this e-briefing, please do not hesitate to contact Kaleigh Grainger or Tim Coolican. We can assist with queries relating to identifying who the duty holder is, what the “duty to manage” involves and the steps a school should take if it is concerned about asbestos.
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
One change proposed by the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of a duty holder regime, which will see statutory responsibility for the safety of higher risk buildings placed on key individuals
Throughout this pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been publishing various “Statements on Coronavirus” (Statements) which provide guidance on consumer rights during this time.
A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK means new measures are being put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of a second wave. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it is important to remain focused on the sector’s road to recovery.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Following our recent e-briefing on Possession Notices, Helen Tucker and Emilie Pownall from our housing litigation team discuss the impact of the changes on social landlords.
Not only has the possession stay been extended until 20 September, the notice periods to be given to tenants has been extended in certain circumstances with some important exceptions.
The Court has confirmed that a party cannot withhold its consent in order to re-write the original bargain.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, building safety continues to be a key concern for social housing providers and their residents.
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