Westminster Social Policy Forum

We are continuing to organise full-scale virtual conferences which retain all the features of physical seminars, including full programmes, presentations with slides, panel discussions and live delegate questions and comments sessions, person-to-person and group networking, and a permanent record provided to all delegates afterwards. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time, so there are plenty of opportunities to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are.
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Next steps for building regulations and fire safety

Morning, Tuesday, 20th July 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference is examining next steps for improving building standards and fire safety in the UK - looking at priorities for the new Building Safety Regulator, and the impact of forthcoming changes to the regulatory landscape.

The discussion is taking place in the context of:

  • the ongoing Grenfell Tower Inquiry
  • the Government’s recently announced five-point plan for building regulation, committing to protecting leaseholders from the cost of replacing unsafe cladding
  • the Fire Safety Act, which has now received royal assent following debate in Parliament regarding liability for costs, limitations to possible funding, and priorities for protecting safety
  • the Draft Building Safety Bill which was taken forward as part of the Queen’s Speech earlier this month
  • the Planning for the Future white paper, which aims to streamline and modernise the planning process, and was also taken forward as part of the Queen’s Speech

We are pleased to be able to include keynote sessions with Damien Dacey, Deputy Director, Building Safety Programme, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government; Sarah Mallagh, Senior Policy Advisor, Health and Safety Executive; and Martin Taylor, Director of Regulatory Policy, LABC - as well as contributions from the Association of Residential Managing Agents; Burges Salmon; The Confederation of Co-operative Housing; the Construction Products Association; the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea; the Royal Institute of British Architects Trust; the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors; and the University of Central Lancashire. The chair is Jim Shannon MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Healthy Homes and Buildings.

The agenda will bring out latest thinking in areas such as:

  • regulation - priorities for the new Building Safety Regulator and the regulatory framework
  • fire safety - looking at:
    • issues for the implementation of the Fire Safety Act
    • stakeholder perspectives on the scope of the Act, including any potential unresolved issues
    • ensuring industry compliance and best practice
  • growing stakeholder confidence - priorities for:
    • effective engagement between regulators and tenants, landlords, and property owners
    • embedding safety in design

The agenda

  • Building regulation - the policy landscape and key issues for the future
  • Next steps for improving fire safety and building regulation - implementation, industry compliance and competence, supporting tenants, and developing best practice and standards
  • Achieving whole-system improvement - embedding safety into design, strengthening accountability, driving culture change, and effective engagement with residents and property owners
  • Policy priorities for improving building standards and fire safety
  • Taking forward the new regulatory framework and priorities for the new Building Safety Regulator

Key areas for discussion:

Priorities for the new Building Safety Regulator - set up as part of the Draft Building Safety Bill and introduced in the Queen’s Speech:

  • intended to oversee the safe design, construction and occupation of high-risk buildings, and give expert advice to those across the sector
  • with discussion on how the new regulator will work with those in the sector to drive up standards across the board

Priorities for policy - improving industry compliance and competence, local enforcement, supporting tenants and developing best practice and standards:

  • the Fire Safety Act and Draft Building Safety Bill - evaluating their impact and potential shortcomings, including:
    • how amendments to the 2005 Fire Safety Order, designed to simplify responsibility for fire safety in buildings containing more than one home, have affected local enforcement action
    • assessing additional measures that might be needed, such as financial support or liability, widening the remit of properties impacted, and strengthening enforcement
  • regulation and standards - including the role of professional bodies in supporting the development and dissemination of stronger regulatory and industry standards
  • options for further action - whether more is needed to:
    • identify risk earlier
    • support those with properties at risk who are not covered by the Act and draft Bill
    • improve engagement with fire services
    • speed up regulatory change

Priorities for industry - driving further improvements in compliance, competence, and transparency, with the Future of Building Control Working Group calling for:

  • a new competence framework
  • the simplification of process and procedures
  • a new code of conduct to set clear expectations for the sector

Growing stakeholder confidence:

  • effective engagement with residents, tenants and property owners - structures, strategies and best practice so that the voices of residents and communities are taken into account, ensuring that:
    • their concerns are heard quickly and effectively
    • they feel safe
    • they are informed about any changes that are happening
  • embedding safety into design - best practice and practicalities for architecture, construction businesses, local authorities, and others
  • strengthening accountability - assessing whether proposals to enhance the role of the responsible person or duty-holder go far enough in terms of the responsibilities of building owners
  • safety priorities:
    • the Grenfell Tower Inquiry - lessons learned, and priorities for driving the necessary changes to culture across the sector
    • cladding removal - priorities for ensuring the removal of all unsafe cladding from all high-rise buildings
    • further opportunities to build safety into design, and ensure building safety regulations are followed along the various stages of design, construction, occupation, and maintenance

The way forward - further policy and regulatory priorities for improving building standards and fire safety

Relevant developments:

  • the ongoing Grenfell Tower Inquiry - with limited attendance hearings resuming in line with Government guidance as the lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted
  • the Draft Building Safety Bill:
    • included in the Queen’s Speech to Parliament earlier this month
    • forming part of the Government’s response to the Independent Review into Building Regulations and Fire Safety
    • including the establishment of a new Building Safety Regulator
  • the Fire Safety Act - which has just completed its passage through Parliament:
    • following a number of amendments being proposed in the House of Lords, including those aimed at addressing a lack of protection for leaseholders against large fire safety bills
    • setting out plans to clarify that in multi-occupied, residential buildings the responsible person or duty-holder must manage and reduce the risk of fire for:
      • the structure and external walls of the building, including cladding, balconies, and windows
      • entrance doors to individual flats that open into common parts
  • the Government’s Five-point plan to bring an end to unsafe cladding, which includes aims to:
    • fund the cost of replacing unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in residential buildings of 18 metres (6 storeys) and over in England
    • introduce a developer levy, which will apply when developers seek permission to build certain high-rise buildings in England
    • introduce a new tax for the UK residential property development sector, with the Government committing to consult on the policy design in due course
  • Planning for the future - the Government white paper, with proposals to reform and streamline England’s current system
  • New approach for achieving consensus between building control bodies and Fire and Rescue Authorities in building works - a sector-led way forward proposed by The Joint Regulators Group
  • the Future of building control working group - bringing together key parties to develop proposals for the future oversight and regulation of Building Control Bodies and professionals
  • Consultation launched on new code of practice for external walls - from MHCLG, looking at evaluating the safety of external walls and cladding systems
  • Preparing for planning gateway one - information by LABC in preparation of the planning gateway set to be introduced from 1st August, 2021

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons Library, and officials from the Government Legal Department; the Health and Safety Executive; HM Revenue & Customs; the Law Commission; the National Audit Office; and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from local authorities, combined authorities, housing associations, developers, the construction and construction products sector, architecture, surveying, business, skills, infrastructure, lawyers, academics, think tanks, environmental organisations, residents groups, those who work in energy efficiency, fire safety, the independent and third sectors, and others concerned with the issues discussed, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Martin Taylor

Director of Regulatory Policy, LABC

Keynote Speakers

Sarah Mallagh

Senior Policy Advisor, Health and Safety Executive

Martin Taylor

Director of Regulatory Policy, LABC

Frances Kirwan

Deputy Director, Technical Policy, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government


Jim Shannon MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Healthy Homes and Buildings


Ann Metherall

Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution, Head of Health and Safety, Burges Salmon

Tom Weld

Director, Construction and Engineering, Burges Salmon

Peter Caplehorn

Chief Executive, Construction Products Association

Gary Strong

Chair, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

Professor Richard Hull

Professor of Chemistry and Fire Science, School of Physical Sciences and Computing, University of Central Lancashire

Blase Lambert

Chief Officer, The Confederation of Co-operative Housing

Dr Nigel Glen

Chief Executive Officer, Association of Residential Managing Agents

Councillor Kim Taylor-Smith

Lead Member, Grenfell, Housing and Social Investment, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Adrian Dobson

Executive Director, Professional Services, Royal Institute of British Architects