Building a safer future: the UK Government’s vision for its building safety programme


  • Building safety

09 April 2020




The Government has published its response to the Building a Safer Future consultation, which itself was published in June 2019.  The response contains the Government’s proposals for a reformed building safety system covering the performance of all buildings, as well as the management of fire and structural safety risks in new and existing buildings in scope.  

Crucially for the workplace and facilities management profession, the long-anticipated Government response provides more - but not complete - clarity on the new role of the Building Safety Manager (BSM). The BSM can be either a legal entity or a natural person and will be appointed to deliver day-to-day statutory safety functions by the ‘Accountable Person’ who will bear legal responsibility as the ‘Dutyholder’. 

The ‘Accountable Person’ will therefore need to ensure that the BSM has the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to carry out these statutory functions. While the consultation does not mention it explicitly, IWFM understands that in situations where the BSM is a legal entity, there will need to be a named person designated as the ‘competent’ individual. Statutory guidance will be developed that will give greater clarity on what is regarded as ‘competent’ and what will be considered as compliant. 

In collaboration with the Government and industry, the British Standards Institution is setting up a Strategy Group to establish the competence requirements and provide a framework for the BSM and other critical roles of Principal Designer and Principal Contractor. The new standards will enable consistency across independent assessment and third-party accreditation of individual schemes offered by qualifying bodies - including professional bodies - and industry associations.  

IWFM has provided the Secretariat for the Industry Response Group’s Working Group 8, which developed the competency framework for the BSM. The Working Group 8 work will form the blueprint for the BSI Standard. We remain fully engaged in the sector’s ongoing work on building safety, including the BSI work, and will keep members informed of future developments. 

The Government has recently published more information on the new Building Safety Regulator which will sit within the HSE.  The new Regulator will be responsible for the more stringent regulatory regime for higher risk buildings, which was announced in the response and will play a big role in regulating the BSM functions and outputs effectively.

What can workplace and FM professionals do now to prepare for the forthcoming building safety changes?

Key questions for building managers/owners to consider:

  • Do your buildings fall within the scope of the new regime?​
  • Do you have the right people with the appropriate competencies – do you have the resources for training and upskilling to cover any gaps?
  • Do you have adequate processes and management systems for the new Safety Case, Golden Thread and premises information requirements, as well as for increased engagement with residents?​

Specific building safety measures to take forward:

  • Removal of unsafe materials and remediate unsafe wall systems
  • Fire risk assessment including external wall cladding and fire resistance, fire doors (are they fire resistant and self-closing?)
  • Fire-fighting facilities, including testing of lifts
  • Emergency fire procedures including personal evacuation plans and provision for evacuation signals.

If you would like any further information on the above or to share your views on building safety, please email: [email protected] 

Related news items:  

Building safety: Government introduces new Fire Safety Bill for England and Wales (18th March 2020) 

Building safety update: new legislation; government’s response to Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1 (29th January 2020)