London council self refers itself to regulator over safety breaches

A west London Council has been found to be in breach of the regulator’s Home Standard after referring itself over a failure to provide assurance it was delivering the full range of safety measures to tenants and their homes.

During internal audits of building safety work Ealing Council identified a series of shortcomings in its record keeping, compliance checks and follow up actions in the areas of fire risk assessments, gas services, asbestos checks, electrical inspections, lift inspections and legionella checks.

It referred itself to the regulator and in May the Regulator of Social Housing determined that although the council was taking action to deal with the shortcomings, the lack of assurance presented a potential serious detriment to its tenants.

A council spokesperson said “Several factors have led us to this point, and the COVID-19 pandemic played a substantial part. For example, lockdowns and social distancing rules made it impossible for us to complete annual gas safety checks in the homes of some residents who were isolating. That created a backlog in completing checks, which immediately put us in breach of the necessary standards.”

They added that the council was fully up to date on inspections, had completed the necessary gas and fire safety checks while 6,000 follow-up checks on various technical aspects of our buildings will be completed over the coming year. Ealing is the latest council to refer itself over health and safety issues.

It is also working on improvements to its data systems, policies and processes to ensure that all required safety checks including gas, electricity and water are recorded and monitored properly in the future.

The regulator’s statement concluded: “As Ealing is putting in place a programme to rectify these failings and assured the regulator that it fully understands the work that is needed to rectify these failures, we will not take enforcement action at this stage. The regulator will work with the council as it continues to address the issues which have led to this situation, including ongoing monitoring of how it delivers its programme.”

Patrick Mooney, Editor