Building Safety Manager: Housing Select Committee advocates IWFM’s recommendations
27 November 2020
Following their pre-legislative inquiry of the Draft Building Safety Bill, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee published their report on Tuesday 24 November, outlining their recommendations for next steps. The Government is expected to provide a response to the parliamentary report before the end of the year, with the actual Building Safety Bill expected to be presented to parliament in the first half of 2021.
IWFM was quoted several times in the Select Committee report, the recommendations of which chime greatly with our submission by the IWFM Life Safety Working Group. In particular, we welcome the recommendations around the Building Safety Manager (BSM), the role which was the focus of the IWFM submission:
greater oversight is needed of the key professions in the building management sectors, including the new roles created by the Bill
the Government should announce the competence framework for the BSM before the Bill is published
the exact responsibilities and competencies of the newly established accountable person and Building Safety Manager positions are not well-defined in the Bill and should be clarified
the Bill should also require that Building Safety Managers, as well as other professions involved in the design and construction of high-risk buildings, be subject to national accreditation and registration standards.
The latter recommendation in particular complements proposals IWFM has been working on within Working Group 8 (WG8) to assure the competence that will be expected from the BSM and its surrounding structures.
Other key recommendations are:
more detail needed in key areas: overall, more detail is needed to show reforms will drive the necessary changes across the built environment, including on responsibilities and competencies. The Government should include as much detail as is feasible in the Bill itself or publish the secondary legislation alongside it, particularly in the areas where this additional information will prove critical. It should also clearly set out exactly which buildings the legislation applies to so that dutyholders are clear of on their responsibilities
protecting leaseholders from footing the bill: in its current form, the draft legislation fails to provide sufficient protection against leaseholders paying the bill for work to remedy existing fire safety defects. The building safety charge should be a way of funding the cost of future work, not a mechanism for ensuring residents foot the bill for historic failures in fire safety construction or maintenance. The Government should also announce its proposals for funding all building safety remediation work, removing the threat of large bills from leaseholders. In the short term this will require the Government to foot the bill while mechanisms are developed to recover the cost from those responsible for fire safety defects
the Committee found an over-emphasis on as yet unpublished secondary legislation and regulation left significant gaps in how the new regime would operate in practice. It called on the Government to provide much more detail when it publishes the final Building Safety Bill and remove any doubt on the scope of the legislation and the responsibilities on building operators.