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The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/404) (the 2010 Regulations) were laid before Parliament on 25 February 2010 and come into force on 1 April 2010 (see link 'On other sites', right). The 2010 Regulations revoke and replace The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/3129) (the 1998 Regulations). They make new provision authorising local authorities (LAs) in England and Wales to fix their own charges in a scheme, based on the full recovery of their costs, for carrying out their main building control functions relating to building regulations.
The 2010 Regulations contain a transitional provision which allows LAs to introduce a new charging scheme under these regulations any time between 1 April and 1 October 2010, although they must to do so by the latter date. This will enable those LAs who wish to take advantage of the new flexibilities to do so at the earliest opportunity, whilst allowing those who need more time to implement the changes longer to adopt the new charging regime. LAs continue to be required to publicise the making of a new (and replacement or amended) charging scheme in their areas at least 7 days before it comes into force.
The Department has issued Circular 01/2010 which explains the purpose of the provisions of the 2010 Regulations and how they differ from the previous 1998 Regulations (see 'Related publications', below).
The Department has also issue a Circular letter to Building Control Bodies which provides further general guidance on implementation of the 2010 Regulations (see 'Related publications', below).
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) will shortly be publishing updated guidance, titled Local Authority Building Control Accounting Guidance for England and Wales, to assist LAs in determining the costs of carrying out their chargeable building control service relating to building regulations that they should be seeking to recover when setting their charges under the 2010 Regulations. When available, this guidance can be purchased through the CIPFA website (see link 'On other sites', right).
In April 2009 the Department consulted on a package of proposals to change the LA building control charging regime with the aim of introducing more flexibility, accuracy, fairness and transparency into the regime and improving the standards and environment within which LAs and Approved Inspectors (AIs) operate and compete.
Following the broad support from consultees for most of the proposals the Department implemented the changes through the 2010 Regulations, although some modifications were made to reflect the views of consultees and restrictions imposed by the charging power in the Building Act 1984 (as amended).
The key principles relating to LA building control charges remain the need to fix their charges by means of a scheme, to achieve full cost recovery and the fact that the user should pay for the actual service that they receive. However, greater emphasis is given to the need to relate charges to the cost of carrying out the relevant building control function for individual building projects.
The main changes in the 2010 Regulations relate to new flexibilities in particular: the ability to charge for giving substantive advice related to LA building control functions; an increased range of factors to be taken into account in setting charges; the option of setting either standard charges or making individual determinations of charges; and being able to give refunds and make supplementary charges, all of which are intended to make the charging regime more accurate and fairer. New accounting requirements are also included which are intended to make the regime more transparent and accountable.
The consultation paper, a summary of the consultation responses, and a final Impact Assessment (which was revised following the consultation) can also be found under 'Related publications' section below.