Rick Willmott: ‘Popularist’ Building Safety Act ‘poorly conceived’

Rick Willmott portrait
Rick Willmott

Willmott Dixon’s group chief executive has blasted the Building Safety Act, calling it a “poorly conceived travesty of justice”.

Commenting as his company published its annual accounts for the year to 31 December 2021, Rick Willmott said Willmott Dixon’s progress had been “distorted” by cladding-related provisions totalling £61m.

Willmott said the company needed to set aside an increased sum as it pursues recovery from the organisation’s responsibility for designs, fire safety advice and insurance protection on buildings where remediation has been required.

And he suggested that the government had dodged its own responsibilities in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster, instead throwing the construction industry “under the proverbial bus”.

‘Travesty of justice’

Willmott said: “We are all beginning to decipher the retrospective impact of the new Building Safety Act at a time when many in our industry will be wondering how the widespread failure of the government’s own regulatory and testing system has left building owners and their contractors facing uninsured and unquantifiable financial risks for residential properties certified as fully compliant with Building Regulations over the last 30 years.”

“It is a poorly conceived travesty of justice that shines a spotlight on popularist law making. While the Act has quite rightly found a solution to the problems of innocent occupiers of some dangerous buildings, it has done so by making a scapegoat of the whole industry and by throwing developers, contractors and their supply chains under the proverbial bus rather than accepting the fundamental role that successive governments, their own regulators and agents have played in creating this mess.” 

Financial performance   

Willmott Dixon reported turnover of £1.1bn for the year to 31 December, with profit before tax, amortisation and exceptional items at £24m. Profit before tax and amortisation after exceptional items was £13.3m. Its cash at bank increased to £113m, while it has a £1.4bn order book.

Meanwhile, non-executive director Jonathon Porritt, who guided Willmott Dixon’s sustainable development strategy, is to retire this year. Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at the UK Green Building Council, will take up a role as non-executive director to replace him.

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  1. Sorry Mr Wilmott, but the Tenants/Leaseholders were not responsible for the problems and nor are the taxpayers. The Building Owners were responsible – they employed the Designers and Developers – therefore they, or, their insurers should foot the bill.

  2. I like the term ‘popularist law making’. There’s a lot of it, along with popularist judges and popularist local authorities and professional institutions that drive ill-informed regulations. But owners of flats with cladding liabilities must have paid for surveys on their properties – they were poorly served by the RICS

  3. Who is responsible for the Building Regulations ???

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