The second reading of the Building Safety Bill took place on the 21st of July 2021 in the House of Commons.  The Bill was produced following years of consultations, proposals, including the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt in 2018 who found that the current building regulations were not fit for purpose.  

Scrutiny and Regulation.

The Bill facilitates and demands increased levels of scrutiny when it comes to building safety.  The scrutiny will begin at the planning stage and continue throughout the lifecycle of the building.  

There will be a real focus on the tracking, updating and maintaining of crucial information relating to building safety – what is termed the ‘golden thread’ of information.  This coupled with the increased oversight from the new Building Safety Regulator means that construction companies and building owners/managers will face ongoing responsibilities to keep building safety at the forefront of their operations. 

Key Takeaways of the Second Reading.

The second reading of the Bill reiterated some of the key principles of the Bill, including the following:

  • The Government hopes the Bill will strengthen the building safety system and is a crucial step in overhauling the current safety regime
  • The Building Safety Fund will reopen in the Autumn
  • The Bill will impact the construction industry, but also local authorities as duty holders and regulators
  • New buildings will have to pass 3 regulatory safety gateways at planning stage, final decision stage, and preoccupation. 
  • The new Building Safety Regulator will be established in the Health and Safety Executive and will implement a strict regulatory regime.  
  • The regulator will oversee the performance and safety aspects of all buildings and will require compliance and accurate monitoring of information. 
  • An accountable person will be appointed for buildings in occupation.  They will be required to maintain all the information relating to the building and submit what is known as a safety case.  
  • The accountable person will have a duty to liaise with, and listen to, residents. 
  • Leaseholders will pay a Building Safety Charge (but these payments will not cover remediation)

Building Safety Fund Reopening.

In his opening statement at the second reading of the Bill, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, confirmed that the Building Safety Fund would reopen.  This means that buildings will be able to apply to the fund from the autumn.  The Building Safety Fund was originally established in 2020 with a £1 billion fund to replace unsafe cladding on high-rise buildings.  

The reopening of the Safety Fund aims to support remediation efforts for unsafe non-AMC cladding on residential buildings over 18 metres.  The Secretary of State confirmed that reopening the fund would enable more time for ‘case-by-case’ analysis and ensure that applicants that missed the deadlines originally set were able to apply. 

The Government plans to work alongside the Shadow Building Safety Regulatory to implement and monitor audit processes relating to fire risk assessments.  The default position for fire risk assessors and lenders should be that there is no significant risk to life unless the evidence states otherwise.  What this means for owners of buildings is that there will be greater pressure to record, maintain and track data relating to assessments and risk. 

Responding to the second reading of the Bill in Parliament, our very own Haris Khan states:

‘The legislation is a key milestone in ensuring that essential steps are taken in building safety from construction through to occupation, and the process of recording, storing, and updating information will be central to compliance’. - Haris Khan (Director, Group Strategy & UK Commercial, Plentific)

Plentific’s software supports duty holders by providing a central, smart management platform that facilitates the storing, tracking and updating of crucial ‘golden thread’ information.  Without a purpose-built platform, ensuring compliance with legislation will be complex, time-consuming, and beyond the capabilities of organisations and housing providers. Those organisations that take steps now to improve their data management and audit trails using the easy-to-use platform offered by Plentific will establish themselves as frontrunners when the Bill becomes legislation.  

Managing, analysing and interrogating data is about more than legislative compliance, it is also about unlocking business efficiencies, and effectively assessing and managing risk.