Consultation outcome

Building a safer future: quick-read guide

Updated 2 April 2020

Applies to England


In our consultation, we want to let you know about the changes that we are proposing to improve safety and minimise the risk of fire in high rise buildings. We would like your views on our proposals.

This guide:

  • summarises the key changes that we are suggesting;
  • points you in the right direction if you want to find out more details or tell us your views.

A consultation is a document where the government states what it wants to do, so that people can tell the government what they think of their proposals and the government can take those views into account. We are keen to hear what people who live in high rise buildings think about the proposals.

Why are we making changes?

The Grenfell Tower fire was a tragedy and showed a need to make major changes and improvements to the building safety system.

The Independent Review of Building Regulation and Fire Safety led by Dame Judith Hackitt, found that there are issues in the way some high-rise residential buildings are built, managed and looked after. Her review also found that sometimes residents are not confident that their buildings are safe and have been unable to get their concerns taken seriously.

To address these issues, we have developed a set of policy proposals to improve the fire and structural safety of high-rise residential buildings. These proposals will help shape changes in the law that will help to make sure high-rise residential buildings are safe to live in and residents are able to have their voices heard.

Before these proposals are finalised, we would like to have views from as many people as possible to help us work together to deliver something that will have a real and lasting impact.

What has the government already done?

We have:

  • Set up an independent public enquiry to look into why the fire happened at Grenfell Tower;
  • Set up an Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety led by Dame Judith Hackitt to consider how the system might need to change in the future;
  • Identified significant building safety risks arising from the Grenfell Tower fire and all residential high-rise buildings (over 18 metres in height) with Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding, which was found to be unsafe; and
  • Ensured the safety of ACM-clad buildings by taking immediate safety measures and making longer-term plans to make these buildings safer.

What do we want to do now?

To deal with the wider problems, we need to make changes to the building safety system.

This consultation sets out how we plan to overhaul the system for high rise residential buildings through:

  • clearer responsibilities for those building or managing these buildings;
  • a stronger voice in the system and better information for residents;
  • greater oversight by regulators; and
  • tougher enforcement when things go wrong.

What else is the government doing?

The proposals set out in the consultation are focussed on fire and structural safety in England. But there are some other examples of things the government is doing to make people feel safer and more secure in their homes:

  • We are ending ‘no fault’ evictions under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 so landlords cannot evict tenants for no reason;
  • We have introduced the Tenant Fees Act which bans letting fees paid by tenants in England;
  • We have brought in a new law to make sure that rented houses and flats are ‘fit for human habitation’, which means that they have to be safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm. This came into force on 20 March 2019.

Overview of the consultation

Chapter 1: sets out what the government has already done and is currently doing to make buildings safer.

Chapter 2: describes which buildings these new changes and improvements will affect.

Chapter 3: describes what we want to do to make sure there are clear dutyholders looking after buildings at all stages – from when they are being designed and built to when people are living in them.

The dutyholders are the people who are legally responsible for ensuring the building is designed and built to be safe for its residents.

Part A – proposes introducing 5 dutyholders (client, principal designer, principal contractor, designer and contractor) who will be responsible for the safety of a building when it is being designed and built, including ensuring that building regulations are complied with. It sets out a clear set of responsibilities that they need to meet to show how they are making buildings safe.

Building regulations set out the minimum standards that buildings and building works must meet to make sure they are safe.

Part B – sets out how an ‘accountable person’ should look after higher risk buildings once people have moved in and what their responsibilities are.

The accountable person is the person legally responsible for the fire and structural safety of a building when people are living in it.

Part C – sets out how we can ensure that buildings are safe throughout their lifecycle. At all stages of a building’s lifecycle – from when it’s designed and built, to when people are living in it, someone will be responsible for managing and minimising fire and structural risks.

Chapter 4: describes how we will empower residents by giving them the right safety information about their building and make sure that they can raise any views or concerns about the safety of their building and not be ignored.

Chapter 5: sets out how we will make sure that there is effective oversight of the regulatory system by creating a building safety regulator. This regulator will be responsible for making sure everyone follows the new regulations, and that those responsible for buildings have the right skills and knowledge for the job. It will also have oversight of building safety across England.

Chapter 6: sets out our proposals to make sure those working on buildings follow the requirements and where that doesn’t happen that there is an effective way to hold them to account, including sanctions to punish those who don’t follow them.

How will we make sure that this new system works?

The changes we propose will overhaul the current building safety system. We want to make sure that the new regulatory system is flexible so it can adapt and expand to cover more buildings over time.

We will make sure that the new system is regularly reviewed to see where improvements should be made and whether other buildings should also have these rules.

Through these proposals we are determined to ensure residents are safe, and feel safe, in their homes and to make sure this remains the case for the generations to come.

Chapter 1: Introduction and progress to date

This chapter sets out what the government has already done and is currently doing to make buildings safer. If you would like to read more about this, please see pages 19-28 of chapter 1 of the consultation document.

Chapter 2: Types of buildings we want to include in the new system

Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review recommended applying new requirements for buildings over 10 storeys, but we have looked again at the evidence and propose a wider scope because of the numbers of fires in these buildings and the risk to people’s safety.

We propose that the new building safety regime will be for buildings that are:

  • lived in by multiple households; and
  • 18 metres high (6 storeys) or more.

To answer a question on this proposal, see Question 1.1 at paragraphs 28 to 34 on pages 28 to 29 of the consultation document.

Home Office research shows that fire incidents in buildings where people sleep which are not residential can be high, for example in prisons, hospitals, supported/sheltered housing and educational buildings. So, we want to design a system so that over time, additional buildings, for example buildings where vulnerable people sleep, may be included.

To answer questions on this proposal, see Questions 1.2 - 1.8 at paragraphs 35 to 52 on pages 29 to 33.

Chapter 3: A new dutyholder regime

For the new building safety regime to work, we propose to introduce dutyholders who will be responsible for making sure buildings are safe. The dutyholder will have responsibility at different stage of the building life including:

  • Part A – duties when a building is being designed and built
  • Part B – duties when people are living in the building
  • Part C – duties that run throughout the building’s life cycle

Part A proposes:

  • Making sure that there are a clear set of ‘dutyholders’ involved in the design and build of buildings so that there is clear responsibility.

  • Dutyholders will be responsible for ensuring that building regulations – the minimum standards a building must meet – are complied with.

  • Dutyholders will to be required to show that they are managing risks at new ‘gateway points’ before they can continue with the different stages of the building process.

    • Gateway 1 – before planning permission can be given, the dutyholder will need to submit a ‘fire statement’ and the regulator will consult the Fire and Rescue Authority to make sure fire safety is considered early on.
    • Gateway 2 – before construction can begin, the dutyholder will need to show how the building has been designed to be safe and follows building regulations by providing full plans and supporting documents.
    • Gateway 3 – before anyone can move into the building, the dutyholder will need to hand over building safety information about the completed building. They will need to apply for and receive a provisional registration of the building and tell the regulator that building risks have been assessed and arrangements are in place to make sure the building is managed safely while people are living there.

To answer questions on this proposal, see Questions 2.1 - 2.33 at paragraphs 59 to 107 on pages 35 to 48.

Part B sets out our proposals for a new building safety regime where higher risk residential buildings are lived in. This is to make sure that there is a ‘safety case’ setting out how the building is being kept safe and it is clear who is responsible for keeping the building safe.

This involves:

  • Creating a new ‘accountable person’ role who will be the dutyholder responsible for making sure that building fire and structural safety risks are reduced as much as reasonably practicable when people are living in the building.

  • Dutyholders will create a ‘safety case’ which contains all the important information about a building that shows how the dutyholders are managing any fire or structural risks on an ongoing basis.

  • The accountable person may also employ a ‘Building Safety Manager’ who has the right skills and expertise to look after the building. Their role would be to help the accountable person by doing the day-to-day work involved with keeping a building safe. e.g. the Building Safety Manager would be there to deal with any safety problems they find or are reported by residents in the block(s) they are responsible for.

To answer questions on this proposal, see Questions 3.1 - 3.22 at paragraphs 108 to 194 on pages 49 to 65.

Part C sets out the duties that run through the building’s life cycle and proposes:

  • The dutyholder to be responsible for the golden thread of building information ensuring it is created, maintained and held digitally throughout the building life cycle to support safety improvements. In addition, we propose that key information such as building type/purpose, size and years built, should be held in a specified format so the regulator can easily access key information.

Golden thread is a set of key documents held digitally on building information. This could include information on the structure of the building and any changes made to the building through refurbishment.

  • We aim to create a system of ‘mandatory occurrence reporting’ to the regulator which will ensure that the client, principal designer, principal contractor and accountable person must ensure that anyone involved in the construction of a building can report fire and structural issues.

  • The new system will make sure that all dutyholders employ people who are suitably qualified and competent.

Competence is the ability of an individual to apply the necessary skills, knowledge and behaviours to make informed decisions and carry out their job effectively.

To answer questions on this proposal, see Questions 4.1 - 4.20 at paragraphs 195 to 243 on pages 66 to 78.

Chapter 4: Residents at the heart of a new regulatory system

The views and concerns of residents should never be ignored by those responsible for managing the safety of their buildings. The accountable person in an occupied high rise building will have specific duties to residents.

These proposals will give residents a stronger voice and allow them to hold those responsible for the safety of their buildings to account. Residents will be empowered by having better access to information about their building and have more of a say over decisions made about the fire and structural safety of their building.

  • We propose that the accountable person (the person with overall responsibility for the safety of the building) must provide residents with the information they need so that they understand the protections in place to keep their building safe from structural or fire issues.

To answer a question on this proposal, see Question 5.1 at paragraphs 252 to 255 on page 81.

  • Residents will also be able to access more detailed information about building and fire safety by requesting it from the accountable person. The accountable person will only be able to refuse to provide information for specified reasons (e.g. that sharing the information would be a security risk or would divulge personal information).

To answer questions on this proposal, see Questions 5.2 - 5.3 at paragraphs 256 to 261 on pages 82 to 83.

  • We propose that the accountable person must have a Resident Engagement Strategy which sets out the way that they are going to engage with residents and how residents can get involved and benefit from participating in engagement on building safety.

To answer questions on this proposal, see Questions 5.4 - 5.5 at paragraphs 262 to 271 on pages 83 to 85.

  • Residents have a key role in keeping their buildings safe and residents, and others, have raised concerns that in some cases individuals may put themselves and their neighbours at risk. We are proposing that there is a clear obligation on residents to co-operate with the work of the accountable person to keep the building safe and are asking for views on the obligation and what safeguards would be needed.

To answer questions on this proposal, see Questions 5.6 - 5.8 at paragraphs 272 to 278 on pages 85 to 86.

  • To make sure that residents can raise safety concerns, the accountable person will need to have a clear process for how they will respond to residents’ concerns.

To answer a question on this proposal, see Question 5.9 at paragraphs 282 to 284 on pages 87 to 88.

  • Residents will be able to take urgent safety concerns to the new regulator if the accountable person fails to deal with them properly.

To answer questions on this proposal, see Questions 5.10 - 5.11 at paragraphs 285 to 291 on pages 88 to 89.

See more information for residents and tenants on fire safety

Chapter 5: A more effective regulatory and accountability framework for buildings

We propose to make sure that there is strong oversight of the new regime for high rise residential buildings (18 metres and above) by creating a new building safety regulator to ensure it is enforced robustly and effectively.

The regulator will also oversee the wider building and regulatory system and work to drive high standards of competence for those working on buildings.

We are proposing to set up a single building safety regulator, which would be responsible at a national level for:

  • Oversight of building safety and wider regulation;
  • Oversight of operation and enforcement of the new regime for high rise residential buildings, and setting guidance;
  • Advising government on what buildings should be included in the scope of the new regime, by developing and analysing evidence on risk; and
  • Oversight of competence of people working on buildings, including keeping a register of those competent to take on key dutyholder roles in the new system and providing guidance on where to find qualified people to work on buildings in scope.

To answer a questions on these proposals, see Questions 6.1 - 7.4 at paragraphs 300 to 334 on pages 91 to 98.

We are also proposing that there should be stronger regulation of construction products. We propose to achieve this by:

  • Making manufacturers’ responsibilities clearer in legislation, focussing on construction products that are critical to safety, and requiring clear labelling and information so that it is clear how the product should be used safely;

  • Strengthening national regulation of construction products, with a national complaints system and a stronger focus on enforcement, so that problems are dealt with effectively; and

  • Setting minimum standards for independent assurance schemes and encouraging their use, so people can be confident that construction products meet the standards manufacturers claim.

To answer questions on these proposals, see Questions 8.1 - 8.15 at paragraphs 335 to 356 on pages 99 to 104.

  • We are also proposing that the whole regulatory system is independently reviewed to make sure that it is working properly.

Chapter 6: Enforcement, compliance and sanctions

Through strong oversight by the new regulator, we propose to make sure that those responsible for the safety of buildings comply with their responsibilities and are held to account if they do not.

The Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety found that those responsible for the safety of buildings are not discouraged enough from failing to comply with their responsibilities as they are not often held to account by the current regulators.

We want to change this culture and are proposing to encourage those responsible for the safety of buildings to comply with their responsibilities. We are taking a tougher approach to those that do not comply with their responsibilities under the new regime.

We are proposing to:

  • Create new criminal offences to make sure that those responsible for the safety of a high rise residential building during the design and construction of the building, as well as when residents are living in the building, comply with their responsibilities;

  • Give the new regulator the power to take quick and effective action, through monetary penalties such as fines, when the requirements of the new regime have not been met.

To answer questions on these proposals, see Questions 9.1 - 9.4 at paragraphs 357 to 364 on pages 105 to 107.

We are also proposing to make it easier to take action for all buildings where building work does not meet required building regulations standards by:

  • Giving local authorities more time to serve enforcement notices, so that they can take action where problems are uncovered later; and

  • Enabling private individuals to make a claim for damages where work on a building has not met building regulations standards, and they have suffered harm as a result.

An enforcement notice is a legal document requiring a particular action to be taken when there has been a breach of planning rules.

To answer questions on these proposals, see Questions 9.5 - 9.6 at paragraphs 365 to 373 on pages 107 to 108.