Independent report

Building safety: The Industry Safety Steering Group’s third report for the Secretary of State and the Minister for Building Safety

Published 10 January 2022

Applies to England

The third report from the Industry Safety Steering Group on the progress of culture change in the built environment industry.


This is the third annual report from the Industry Safety Steering Group (ISSG) since it was formed in 2018, following the publication of the final report of my Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, “Building a Safer Future”. Over the last 3 years the group has met every 3 months and has engaged with various parts of the supply chain that delivers residential high-rise buildings to challenge them to drive the much-needed culture change ahead of and to underpin legislation. Some of the key players have attended ISSG to report on their progress on more than one occasion and we have been actively following up with them to receive updates and ensure work is progressing

This report presents a summary of our activities over the last year, identifies areas where we have seen progress being made but also highlights areas of continued concern. There is a mixed picture – some organisations making excellent progress while others are holding back saying they cannot make changes “just yet” until they see more detail, and are required to do so, in legislation. It has been crystal clear to many of us from the outset that legislation alone will not deliver the outcomes we are looking for. The culture of the industry itself must change to one which takes responsibility for delivering and maintaining buildings which are safe for those who use them.

What has become even more apparent over the last year is the huge amount of work which has been undertaken by third sector bodies, who support or represent various parts of the industry. Their work has been commendable and in the last year we have been particularly pleased to see the progress which has been made within the Considerate Constructors Scheme in establishing both the Building a Safer Future Charter and working with the Construction Products Association on the Code for Construction Product Information. These and other examples show just how much has been done to provide industry with the tools and frameworks it needs to accelerate the pace of change and to rebuild trust and confidence in and across the sector.

But the lack of take up of these vehicles is a serious concern. To date only a small number of the usual players have committed to be part of the Building a Safer Future charter and all that it entails and we have heard repeatedly that there is a low level of demand for training despite the well-known issues around competence across many key disciplines.

The challenge to industry from the ISSG is that the time has come for a significant intervention for key players within the sector to stand up and demonstrate leadership. We also want this to coincide with government setting clear and unequivocal expectations through public procurement. The key message must be that we need to go further and we need to go faster, ahead of legislation. It is time to differentiate between those who are ready and willing to do the right thing and lead the way and those who continue to try and hide. We need to see firm commitments to action with target dates for improvement and delivery which are then reported against. Such an intervention will have the full support of the ISSG and we stand ready to play our part in making it happen and in stewarding progress against challenging targets, when set.

Finally, I would like to thank my colleagues on the ISSG for their extraordinary commitment and their passion for driving change. The wealth of experience which they all bring to every meeting and the way in which they are willing to share that knowledge with others outside of meetings is a pleasure to witness and is helping us to continue the momentum to drive change.

Dame Judith Hackitt DBE FREng



1. The Industry Safety Steering Group (ISSG) was formed to scrutinise the built environment industry’s proposals and progress towards culture change, on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). The role of the group is to provide constructive challenge, recommend actions, overcome obstacles and make proposals to accelerate change.

2. Through its engagement with industry, the ISSG has successfully encouraged many organisations to participate more widely in the building safety agenda to ensure the importance and pace of this remains a key priority for the sector; and that industry leaders take on the necessary role and responsibility for delivering this change. This will be key to underpinning effective delivery of the legislative amendments being brought about through the Fire Safety Act 2021 and the Building Safety Bill. Further, the group continues to hold industry to account for delivering culture change.

3. The ISSG’s role is about challenging and encouraging all parts of industry involved in delivering high rise residences to collectively bring itself up to the level where it should always have been operating. We do not tell industry what to do – but we do set clear expectations.

Progress to date

4. Our second annual report, published last year, had several strong examples of positive action by industry leaders. We are pleased to present additional examples in this third report. However, it is disappointing that we still cannot report a critical mass or groundswell of action across industry to suggest there is significant momentum on culture change. We still see an industry that, at best, is in compliance mode rather than a leadership mode. There is still more work for the industry to do to regain the public’s trust, across the full range of activities in the industry; from the early work of the client and the initial procurement through to designing, constructing, managing and maintaining homes, or manufacturing construction products. This is starting to happen in some places but must be done more proactively, visibly, faster, and across the whole breadth of industry and throughout the supply-chain.

5. We want to see an industry that prioritises safer buildings, and ongoing, high standards of professional competence, and understands how to minimise the risk of serious failures. It must be normal to challenge and address poor behaviours and for firms to seek out partners and suppliers with a demonstrable commitment to building safety.

6. We have seen encouraging action and engagement from many of the organisations that have presented at our meetings about the steps they are taking within their own businesses to drive culture change. We have also seen some good progress through a number of industry initiatives including the further development of the Building a Safer Future Charter and the Code for Construction Product Information, the ongoing work of the Competence Steering Group and the development of competence standards by the British Standards Institution.

7. These areas of good practice represent a notable improvement to the conversations we were having at the very start of this process, but there is still a lot more work to be done across the industry. There continues to be an over-reliance on ‘the usual players’ to lead the way, while others wait to be told what to do. We are concerned at the extent to which many businesses choose to “hide” behind trade and professional organisations rather than showing leadership directly.

8. The government is making good progress towards implementing the new building safety regime with the Building Safety Bill making its way through Parliament, which will bring in the more stringent but proportionate regulatory framework for high-rise residential and other in-scope buildings (of at least 18 metres or at least 7 storeys). The building control process for the creation of new high-rise residential and other in-scope buildings (gateways two and three) and where building work is carried out in existing high-rise residential and other in-scope buildings (refurbishments) will provide rigorous inspection of building regulations requirements, ensuring that building safety is considered at each stage of design and construction. The new design and construction regime will mean that it will pay to do the right thing, first time around – and make it easier to do so. It will give the home-building industry the clear framework it needs to deliver more high-quality, safe homes and liveable buildings, with clear responsibilities on those undertaking design and construction work. The safety case regime for occupied high-rise residential buildings will require the delivery of a continuous, proportionate, preventative, and proactive approach to managing building safety risks (the spread of fire and structural failure). This will be demonstrated, in part, through the submission of a safety case report for each in scope building to the Building Safety Regulator.

9. It should now be clear to all involved in the industry that the new regime is coming and will affect their activities as we build a stronger and more comprehensive regulatory system. Many of the presenters at our meetings demonstrated a real understanding of the changes and were actively preparing for them. They were also bringing in new practices ahead of the legislative requirements that will form part of the new regime. This is exactly what we want to see across the sector: we need to see real ownership from the industry, without a culture of reliance on the regulator to be told step-by-step how to keep buildings safe. It would be an unacceptable failure of industry if the culture, which only it can change from within, remained the same and it continued to be solely reliant on regulations or assessors to ‘catch them out’ or highlight grave errors, rather than embedding building safety as an essential and intrinsic part of the entire process. This will only ever foster a culture of low-level compliance rather than the innate safety-first mentality which is fundamental to rebuilding trust in the industry.

What do we need to see?

10. We have always been clear that improved regulation is important but only the first significant step to drive real change across the industry. Meaningful, lasting change requires visible leadership and collaboration, significant efforts to build competence and capacity, and with transparency and responsibility central to all decision-making. Every part of the industry and at all levels of the supply chain has a responsibility to step up and demonstrate that it understands and will do what is needed.

11. At an organisational level, these principles should help to lock in positive behaviours from the very start of every project and support an increase in trust and confidence in other organisations as delivery partners. Safety and culture change are everyone’s responsibility, not just those who work on high rise buildings, or the major contractors.

12. To maintain this focus on building safety throughout the lifecycle of a building, dutyholders must test their approach at every stage of a project. As a starting point:

  • Does the procurement process promote collaboration and set the right behaviours from the outset of the project?
  • Are competent people being brought in for each area of the work?
  • Is suitable oversight and responsibility maintained at all times, with risks identified and managed in the right places?
  • Do change control processes keep the necessary focus on building regulations compliance, including building safety?
  • Is the right information captured throughout the project and shared with those who need it?
  • Is the safety and quality of the building assured and how is this done?

13. We still have a very fragmented landscape, which is probably best described as containing multiple industries. It is a significant challenge for all those who are trying to effect change to reach all the relevant participants, before working with them to encourage them to take positive action. We encourage the leaders of organisations and industry bodies to now come together and set out what they are working to change in their sub-sectors and the specific actions that they will take to ensure that the safety of residents is prioritised at every stage of a project. The ISSG is supporting discussions with the Construction Leadership Council and the government to take this forward. We have seen before, particularly for health and safety on construction sites, that this is an industry that is capable of significantly improving its practices when incentivised to do so. We are therefore determined to keep pushing for a positive change in culture and working with the leaders across the sector to drive positive and influential change and to hold them to account.

14. It is imperative that residents are further prioritised as we go forward. It is not yet clear whether the experiences of residents in high-rise buildings have improved over the last few years. While we have found some areas of good practice, there is no real assurance that this is common practice: we now want to see best practice replicated and developed across the country. Organisations should have resident-focused strategies, including ensuring a consumer voice on executive boards and increasing their presence and engagement with residents. Over the next year we intend to test how organisations are measuring the impact of their engagement and aiming for continuous improvement in this area. This will also cover how they are encouraging positive behaviours from their tenants, for example on electrical safety and DIY.

How to use this report

15. This report provides an update on the work of the group since we published our second progress report in August 2020 and will be used to inform the Secretary of State and Ministers in DLUHC on our view on industry’s progress on culture change and the group’s future priorities.

16. This report also outlines what is expected of organisations across the sector. Each chapter sets out a key theme for the ISSG with an explanation of the change we are looking to evidence, examples of good practice, and areas where further action is needed. We suggest that organisations and individuals across the industry use it to consider:

  • Are you a leading or a lagging organisation?
  • Do your culture and practices support building safety?
  • What can you take from the discussion and examples in this report to make improvements?
  • How you can you support and take part in the industry initiatives that are shaping the future of the sector?
  • What best practice in your area can you share more widely to support positive change?
  • And perhaps most importantly, how can you raise these matters at the very highest (Board) level of your organisation.

17. Developing and maintaining a positive culture is everyone’s responsibility and needs a continuous and sustained effort from all involved in the industry. This report sets out many of the areas that will help to contribute to this but is not intended to be a definitive list – indeed, we encourage the industry to go further and to demonstrate how they are doing so. The report also highlights case studies of organisations demonstrating good practice. We actively encourage these organisations to find routes to share their learning and best practice with the rest of industry, including through the media, in the interest of raising standards across the sector. We expect there are many pockets of good practice happening across the industry and we encourage them to let us know once again so that information can be discussed and disseminated for the wider good, and to highlight those organisations and sectors that are leading the way on embedding culture change, which will ultimately deliver greater trust from the public and from collaborators in industry.

18. However, the sharing of good practice will only be effective when the rest of industry shows itself to be willing and wanting to learn from others and to adopt good practice. We have yet to see that happening to the extent that it needs to, and further action is needed to stimulate real leadership from within the industry.

19. The next 3 chapters set out our assessment of the progress of the industry against these key themes:

  • Leadership and collaboration
  • Competence and capacity
  • Transparency and responsibility

1. Leadership and collaboration

20. We continue to push for an increase in visible and effective leadership across the sector. We need to see evidence that we have a maturing industry that is able to reject and challenge poor practices, own and challenge safety standards, recognise and share best practice, and work together to find and drive innovative solutions to address issues around safety and culture change. The industry needs to create a safe and open environment where concerns can be raised without the fear of repercussion. This must continue throughout the supply-chain with a focus on solutions rather than blame or encouraging risk-aversion.

21. We are pleased to have seen some good progress over the last year and are starting to see a structure form within some parts of the built environment industry that has the potential to deliver long-lasting and meaningful change. We want to highlight the following 3 areas and encourage further engagement and similar action from across the sector.

Meaningful industry charters and codes

22. We are particularly pleased with the progress of the Building a Safer Future Charter. This was developed by the Early Adopters group and is now run by the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS). The ISSG has supported and constructively challenged this workstream since its early stages and has been following its progress closely. Through the recently launched ‘Charter Champions’ scheme, organisations have the opportunity to demonstrate objectively and with independent verification that they have a strong focus on safety and the right culture to back this up.

Case study

The Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) has shown significant leadership within the industry through its continued work on the Building a Safer Future Charter. CCS has developed a benchmarking and verification framework that sets a high bar for organisations who go through the process and are then recognised as “Charter Champions”. This process looks at the company/organisation’s approach to building safety as demonstrated through their systems, process, policies, and procedures to assess its commitment to leadership and culture change.

CCS also continue to work closely with the government to discuss the best way to spearhead culture change within the industry and it is now a requirement for any organisation wishing to be involved in the “Help-to-Buy scheme” to be signed up to the Charter. They have also held discussions with both the Scottish and Welsh governments as to how the Charter can be rolled out to those nations so there is a corresponding level of commitment to culture change.

23. This is based on tried and tested approaches in other major hazard sectors including Chemicals (Responsible Care); Oil and Gas (Hearts and Minds); Rail (RM3); ECAST (Aviation); and OSART (Nuclear). A comprehensive and robust process of benchmarking and verification is underpinned by independent assessment and verification to help shift the dial on leadership and culture in relation to building safety. We were pleased to hear from CCS that verification is undertaken by highly experienced and skilled assessors from various high hazard sectors, typically from outside of the built-environment sector such as Oil and Gas (Centrica, Chevron); Petrochemicals (Shell) and Mining. Assessors have operated at senior asset director, operations director and HSE director level.

24. To date the number of organisations signing up to the Charter has been disappointing. The ISSG wants to see all those operating across the sector signing up to the Charter and putting themselves forward for the benchmarking and verification assessments and become a Charter Champion. It should be the aspirational standard the industry is collectively working towards.

25. The first organisations have now begun the Charter Champion Company Status benchmarking process. These early participants comprise contractors, developers and housing associations. We recognise that there is a cost associated with this, proportional to the size of the organisation, but these are far outweighed by the costs of not having good practice and strong, collaborative culture embedded in organisations now. Being a pioneer is not a cost to the business but an investment in rebuilding public and other stakeholders’ trust in your organisation.

26. We also recognise that there may be a concern about putting your organisation forward for an assessment that could prove unfavourable or challenging to hear. But this is exactly the kind of ‘head in the sand’ mentality that we need to address. You can only address areas for improvement when you are aware of them and acknowledge them. Those willing to be independently assessed and to make continuous improvements will set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. As a group we have been particularly impressed by those organisations who have demonstrated a reflective attitude and genuine willingness to learn and improve.

27. The ISSG has also been pleased to hear about the development of the Code for Construction Product Information by the Construction Products Association (CPA). We support its development and encourage all those involved with the construction products sector to get involved. We expect to see it launch formally in the autumn following a consultation period. We were pleased to see the CPA engage the new National Regulator for Construction Products in its development, showing positive engagement with the new regulatory system following the announcement on the establishment of a national regulator in January 2021 – a role model that other parts of the industry would do well to emulate.

Case study

The Construction Products Association (CPA) has developed the Code for Construction Product Information to promote reliable and accurate information around product information within the industry. The CPA provided an update on this work in April 2021, and we were impressed with their commitment to building confidence in product providers and users through the Code and helping to create greater transparency in the products sector. It is hoped that establishing a base for what is and what is not acceptable regarding construction products will help to contribute towards a more complete and widespread level of compliance with regulations and contribute towards other positive changes within the industry.

The CPA have also shown commitment to collaboration through their work with the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) and the Building a Safer Future Charter. Further, it was reported to the ISSG that they are paying close attention to the evidence emerging from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry to ensure that their work is in line with any recommendations.

28. Both these industry-led initiatives should help to differentiate between the organisations that are committed to positive change, and those that are continuing to drag their feet.

29. The ISSG is keen to see best practice promoted and rewarded within the sector. It is our strong view that sign-up to and engagement with the Building a Safer Future Charter should be a standard requirement in public sector procurement. We encourage all those commissioning buildings, including local government and housing associations, to consider how they are suitably testing and rewarding organisations with a positive culture that prioritise building safety in the appointment process for construction projects.

30. The ISSG is pleased this is already starting, with Homes England requiring organisations to be a signatory to the Charter, and the Crown Commercial Services requiring evidence of engaging with the principles of the Charter in one of its recently tendered frameworks. This is a promising start towards embedding and rewarding the safety-first approach we need to foster in the industry – but we need it to go further.

31. The ISSG is also of the firm view that those that are signed up to complete the benchmarking and verification process should be suitably rewarded for their leadership, with successful assessment becoming a criteria for certain public sector opportunities.

32. There is a distinct lack of leadership from major organisations in setting out publicly how they are working to improve building safety and sharing their learning across the industry. We are keen to explore this and more importantly to encourage them into a national conversation about the action they are taking so that others can learn from their experience. This is about improving competence and culture across the whole industry. We expect that the first batch of successful Charter Champions will be good candidates to take part in this.

Coordination of the sector

33. We have continued to meet with the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) to discuss their plans to support and promote building safety. These are still at a relatively early stage and we continue to encourage them to take on a more prominent role.

34. We are pleased that building safety is now one of their strategic priorities alongside Net Zero. The CLC’s aim is to provide a strong and effective link between the work of the construction sector, the government and the Building Safety Regulator on this shared agenda.

35. We are very supportive of this work and see significant potential for the CLC to provide key communication, guidance and constructive challenge across the wider construction industry.

36. From the outset of our work to drive culture change we have engaged with a number of trade and professional bodies throughout the sector, and we applaud the efforts of many of these organisations to drive improved standards and behaviours among their members.

37. We have, however, also become aware that a number of these bodies are held back from leading in the way that we would hope to see by the reticence of some of their members. This has further galvanised our view that we need to see real leadership from within the industry itself to accelerate the pace of change.

Collaboration across the sector

38. The ISSG has seen a positive trend from many different parts of the industry towards greater levels of collaboration in the last year. This is important; it reflects the need for different organisations and sectors to come together to address some of the complex and challenging issues relating to building safety, collaboratively. We particularly want to highlight the following areas where we were pleased to hear about the work undertaken to date and encourage this to continue.

39. The Social Housing Best Practice Group have carried out excellent work in bringing together social housing providers to share the work they are doing to make their buildings safer; and to ensure that the views of their residents are taken into consideration during the decision-making process.

Case study

The Social Sector (Building Safety) Engagement Best Practice Group, made up of 8 social landlords and 8 resident members, set out how they had co-designed a series of studies aimed at identifying effective methods of landlord and resident engagement. They focused on information and understanding, landlord and resident responsibilities, and action to take in the event of a fire.

Since attending the meeting, the Group published their final report in March 2021 which sets out their findings, highlights the lessons learned, and sets out the recommendations made by the Group. This will help to push forward the importance of getting resident engagement right and support organisations to do this. The work that has been completed by all those involved in the Group is a great reminder to all within industry of the importance of keeping residents at the forefront of their minds in the work that they do and offers examples of the ways in which this can be achieved in a way that is most beneficial to residents.

40. The ISSG has previously highlighted the need to improve procurement practices so that safety principles are embedded from the start of a project. Trowers and Hamlins has worked with multiple organisations within the industry to push forward collaborative working and has produced a policy paper as part of a working group looking at addressing the price evaluation problems that the industry faces.

41. The Procurement Advisory Group, convened by DLUHC, has seen industry organisations come together to work on a Procurement Guidance Document drafted by Professor David Mosey from Kings College London and Russell Poynter-Brown from On-Pole, to support a transition to collaborative procurement approaches across the sector. We encourage the group members to use their networks to promote use of the guidance and support their supply chains to adopt its advice and principles.

Case study

We were pleased to hear from Trowers and Hamlins, a legal firm that has led a working group looking at alternative pricing models and how they can be used to achieve sustainable outcomes in the housing sector. The findings of this have been set out in a “Pricing Models for the Social Housing Sector” paper published in December 2020. Following this the firm held a series of workshops to explore alternative pricing models, increase awareness about them and the impact on procurement processes.

Trowers and Hamlins has also been involved in other procurement initiatives such as the “The Value Toolkit”, which was published in April 2021 and offers clients a structured approach for value-based decision making across the investment lifecycle of a project, programme or portfolio. The firm has also been involved with South East Consortium (SEC) to develop a guidance document for procurement professionals in the social housing sector which will explain the business case and operational strategies needed to support better procurement.

2. Competence and capacity building

42. The ISSG has been clear that the industry needs to urgently increase the competence and capacity of those working in safety-critical roles. This includes improved support for finding competent individuals and organisations through agreement at an industry level about the competence standards and assurance systems required.

43. We have previously reported on the significant progress of the Competence Steering Group (CSG) in developing its recommendations for a new system of oversight for competence. This has continued in the past year with the publication of the CSG’s final report, “Setting the Bar”.

44. Alongside this we have seen good progress from the British Standards Institution’s programme to develop a suite of national competence standards, which includes the core criteria to be covered in an industry led competence framework and the competence frameworks for the 3 key roles in the new building safety regime. We are encouraged by the wide-ranging organisations involved in this work and the level of engagement with the industry consultations, but we remain concerned about the industry’s ability to bring this together and deliver coherent frameworks of competences that meet the needs of the sector. We now need to see a rapid move towards using the standards and competence frameworks and for the relevant bodies in industry to work together to develop training offers and assurance models, using the core criteria for building safety to develop their own sector-specific competence frameworks where needed.

45. We are pleased that the Building Safety Regulator established its Interim Industry Competence Committee in June. We look forward to inviting the Chair to a meeting this autumn to hear about the committee’s workplan which we believe needs to focus on getting the industry to deliver to the standards rather than further review of the frameworks.

46. However, there is more work to be done to ensure that organisations and wider industry are preparing for the future regime and are embedding this work to build their capability and capacity. This is not restricted to those organisations and professions who are working on high rise buildings and it applies to all. It is not acceptable for an organisation to be unsure of the competence of those it is appointing to undertake safety critical work on projects.

47. We see an important role for the Construction Industry Training Board to work with the industry to identify the need for training courses that address critical skills gaps, support their development, and generate demand but industry must also recognise the need to train and upskill its workforce

48. We were particularly concerned to hear that the demand from industry for training for those installing cladding systems has failed to materialise despite the extensive work that we know is being undertaken to replace defective cladding.

49. Our discussions over the past year have focused around the following 4 themes.

Assessing professional competence

50. The ISSG remains concerned that we have not yet seen clear plans from professional bodies which set out how competence will be continually assessed for their members. A professional qualification, potentially awarded many years ago, must not be the sole basis to demonstrate that an individual is currently competent to undertake a specialised role on a higher-risk building. This is particularly key in the construction industry, which has seen a number of innovations in recent years, such as modular construction.

51. We are pleased that many professional bodies are involved in the work of the CSG and the development of competence frameworks for different sectors. However, we have also observed a strong tendency for organisations to see the problem as being ‘someone else’s. We need to see further detail of how each organisation intends to use the frameworks to assure ongoing competence among their members, as a part of a coherent overall framework.

52. We are encouraged by the development of the contextualised register for engineers working on higher-risk buildings, which will be overseen by the Engineering Council. This will support dutyholders to find individuals with the right level of competence to work on higher-risk buildings. We are pleased that the plans have been shared at industry seminars and we look forward to seeing this up and running.


53. The ISSG remains concerned about the take-up of third-party registration and accreditation. It is important that we have robust, independent assessments of training schemes and assessments to make it clear that industry is not marking its own homework.

54. We heard from United Kingdom Accreditation Service and the Engineering Council who are working together to provide a framework for registration or accreditation to show equivalence across the system. This is good to see but now needs commitment from professional bodies that they will agree to third-party assessments for the specific activities related to competence.

55. We were encouraged by the roundtable discussion we held with several professional bodies where they are starting to consider how third-party accreditation could work for their organisation, but we need to see this put into practice and soon. We will continue to review this and expect to see firm plans shortly.

Golden thread

56. Another area that the ISSG has focused on this year is the delivery and implementation of the principles of the golden thread. We are pleased that the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) is working closely with the government on the golden thread policy and has reported back to ISSG on this topic. The ISSG has welcomed this commitment to helping drive and develop policy on the golden thread. The working group serves as the primary source of advice to officials on golden thread policy and facilitates DLUHC’s and HSE’s engagement with the industry.

57. The working group recently published the BRAC Golden Thread Report, to support industry in preparing to adopt the golden thread by providing clarity on high-level requirements, including the golden thread definition and principles, as well as an overview of their work on the digital standards which will support implementation of the golden thread. The ISSG looks forward to seeing further development of the golden thread policy and greater adoption within industry.

58. One area of concern for the ISSG is that there is a considerable number of organisations that think meaningful change cannot be achieved ahead of legislation, or that it is not necessary for it to happen any sooner. This came through strongly in a presentation on the results of a survey by CIOB and i3pt to understand industry’s views towards the golden thread. Implementation of the golden thread requires good information management to be embedded within organisations. We encourage industry to look at the BRAC’s report and soon to be published factsheet on the golden thread. These set out more detail on the future requirements and on how to implement the golden thread and good information management systems. Industry needs to consider the way they currently manage and exchange information and whether they are meeting the golden thread principles (set out in the BRAC report). This can be done ahead of legislation.

59. We were also pleased to hear from Housing Associations Charitable Trust (HACT) which has made significant progress in the last year to develop the UK Housing Data Standard (UKHDS). The UKHDS project has developed data standards which are free of charge. These data standards and other existing standards (for instance in International Standards and British Standards) will help support industry in effectively managing their information to support building safety. The government will produce guidance on how industry can ensure their golden thread meets the legislative requirements and this guidance will set out more detail on what standards may be helpful in delivering the golden thread.

60. The golden thread now feels like an area that has real momentum behind it, and engagement from many organisations across the sector.

61. We continue to encourage everyone involved in developing the golden thread to reinforce messages about industry leadership and ownership in this area. We understand that there need to be some legislative requirements about the principles the golden thread needs to meet and the information that needs to be stored in the golden thread. However, we do not believe it should be necessary to prescribe or mandate exactly how the golden thread should be implemented and how organisations should manage their information. This would create a burdensome and rigid process that would not be flexible in line with the requirements of different projects and different areas of industry. It would further indicate leadership failure within the industry.

Preparing for the new building safety regime

62. The ISSG would like to hear from more organisations who have already made the necessary changes to prepare for the new regime. We continue to hear some good examples but are concerned that these are small pockets of best practice, rather than evidence of widespread change. Where there is other work going on, it’s important that we share it as an industry so others can learn from our experience and in doing so work collectively to raise standards across the board.

63. We were pleased to hear from Orbit Housing Association and Walsall Housing Group who are both early adopters of digital solutions, with the former implementing new systems to better integrate data and assure its accuracy. The latter developed an app to collate all building information to generate a model which can be shared with residents and fire and rescue services. We were also very impressed by Trafford Housing Trust who updated the group on the actions they have taken to improve building safety in the past few years. Please see the case study below.

Case study

We were impressed by a presentation from Trafford Housing Trust that set how its resident engagement has helped to ensure that their residents feel safe in their homes and involved in the decision-making processes regarding their buildings. The Trust started taking action soon after the publication of the “Building a Safer Future” report, choosing to be proactive and make meaningful changes to their organisation ahead of any legislation in order to improve building safety, quality standards, and, most importantly, the resident experience.

It has become a sector leader in the building safety space and provides advice and guidance to other housing providers, promoting the sharing of best practice across multiple organisations through its best practice group. Trafford Housing was one of the first organisations that we were aware of to employ building safety managers to help manage the risks involved with high-rise residential buildings and to improve engagement and communication with their residents.

3. Responsibility and transparency

64. The ISSG views responsible behaviour as proactively exploring the potential risks in an organisations’ building stock, products, or services and working to reduce these to a safe level. Transparent behaviour is making sure that those affected by the risks are aware of the situation and are suitably engaged in the decisions that affect them. But responsibility and transparency are also about the need for a proportionate response that does not overburden the system with cost and bureaucracy.

65. We want organisations to use a “resident-centric” approach to decision-making and to take ownership of putting right past problems. We want to see more companies committing to fund remediation and mitigation, where it is needed and is proportionate to the risk, not just of cladding but of other safety defects, and public statements that recognise the concerns that these problems and the market over-reaction have caused.

66. The ISSG has heard candidly from a number of developers and housing providers over the last year about their work to ensure existing building stock is safe, while working proactively ahead of legislation to prepare for future reforms. We are pleased that through this many organisations are still ensuring that residents are key to the decisions that are part of this, and residents’ voice is being implemented into wider business planning. Good examples of this include the Mace Group and the Hyde Group.

Case study

In a presentation from Mace Group, we heard about its detailed risk review of every project it has been involved with over the last 15 years and its commitment to ensure all buildings under its control are safe. Mace Group has also set up property management teams which provide guidance to residents on fire safety and measures for their buildings, including remedial work, to support buy-in and understanding from residents. We were also pleased to hear about Mace’s internal training programme to raise the competence of its workforce. This includes modules on high-rise buildings to cover cladding and other fire safety issues such as compartmentalisation. We suggest others follow this example.

Case study

The Hyde Group also reported to the ISSG on their commitment to improving their resident engagement levels and ensuring that all their residents’ voices are heard. Their website includes sections on guidance developed by their resident groups which allows residents to access the information that they may require. As well as this, they are also developing a dedicated building safety resident panel which will provide strategic guidance for future projects.

This demonstration of improved resident engagement and making sure that residents views are considered during the decision-making process is another good example of putting the needs of residents at the forefront of an organisation’s work. Hyde also showed a proactive approach to building inspections via their adoption of a “Safer Homes” policy that ensures all safety issues are rectified within their homes to make sure that residents are kept safe regardless of the cost.

67. The ISSG also heard from the Local Government Association and London Councils in relation to taking responsibility for building safety and it is encouraging to hear that they remain committed to building safety, while balancing many of their other priorities, which have been exacerbated since COVID-19. The ISSG was further interested to hear how they are taking this beyond the scope of the buildings covered by the new legislation.

68. Separately, we want to see an increase in safety reporting, particularly voluntary reporting – and more companies being transparent with their data on their yearly progress, which may help to create a greater understanding of the bigger picture in industry.

69. Institution of Structural Engineers has relaunched Collaborative Reporting for Safer Structures (CROSS) to expand its voluntary reporting scheme to include fire safety also and are making changes to make occurrence reporting more widespread across industry, an example of how they are demonstrating best practice is below. We want companies not only to sign-up to industry initiatives but to submit to benchmarking and verification processes, with wider take-up of independent, third-party assurance.

Case study

The Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) relaunched CROSS in March 2021 to include fire safety and renamed it ‘Collaborative Reporting for Safer Structure’ in response to user research to replace Confidential Reporting for Structural Safety. The relaunched CROSS will encourage all those who work on buildings to use it by launching a new communications plan highlighting the importance of reporting issues on site. It is hoped the relaunched CROSS will help to promote culture change across the industry and support the sharing of best practice.

IStructE has also worked closely with the Institute of Civil Engineers to commission a group of industry professionals to oversee the development of a competence framework for structural engineers. The concept provides a means for meeting the demands for structures within scope of the new Building Safety Bill.

70. Finally, on the subject of transparency and responsibility, the ISSG has heard from a number of stakeholders over the last year regarding the difficulties in obtaining professional indemnity insurance for work on high-rise buildings. We have also heard of the challenges being faced by building owners in insuring properties and leaseholders in buying and selling properties in high rise residential buildings.

71. The Construction Leadership Council, working with BEIS and DLUHC, conducted a survey of professional indemnity insurance market conditions for construction professionals with 1,066 responses. The results show that a substantial proportion of the industry involved in high-rise residential work believe their insurance coverage prevents them from engaging in remediation work. This is concerning given the importance of remediation work where life safety risks have been identified. We were pleased to hear that the Construction Leadership Council in conjunction with BEIS and DLUHC are actively working with the construction and insurance sectors to identify solutions, and to ensure firms and individuals working in the construction and built environment sectors have access to the insurance products they require.

72. The ISSG remains concerned that there has been an overreaction to the risk in existing buildings from the financial sector which has been further fed by risk aversion by some actors in the system who are calling for unnecessary assessments and work to be carried out. We recognise that confidence in the built environment sector has been shaken by everything, we have learned in the last 4 years it is important to retain a sense of proportion and not to exacerbate the current difficult situation that residents of many buildings find themselves in – not least because the rate of fires in blocks of flats remains very low.

Future priorities

73. The next year will be particularly significant for building safety. The Building Safety Bill was introduced to Parliament in July 2021 and is expected to continue its progress towards becoming law. The Outline Transition Plan published by government gives an indicative timescale post-Royal Assent about when aspects of the Bill might come into force.

74. The industry will also start to see much more from the Building Safety Regulator, who we expect to see taking a much more active role, and the new National Regulator for Construction Products in the Office of Product Safety and Standards.

75. The ISSG will continue to push for positive change across the industry and support and encourage action to prepare for the new building safety regime. This will include pushing for public commitments to these changes.


76. We will continue to encourage more proactive and visible leadership across the sector and throughout the supply-chain. We want to hear from strong industry voices who can influence the sector from within to hold itself to a higher standard. There is also a need to ensure this leadership is joined up across multiple priorities including achieving targets on Net Zero, building more homes and driving digital innovation and the move towards greater use of Modern Methods of Construction. This must all be aligned with ensuring buildings are safe.


77. The ISSG intends to speak to more organisations that are procuring, designing, constructing and commissioning buildings now and who will be the dutyholders in the future regulatory regime. This includes developers, contractors and multi-disciplinary consultancy firms. We will want to hear not only how they are preparing their own organisation but how they are working more collaboratively throughout the whole supply chain. To support this, we will continue to work closely with the Considerate Constructors Scheme on the Building a Safer Future Charter and understand how organisations are implementing change and engaging with each other to share best practice.

Competence and capacity building

78. To ensure culture change is sustained, the industry needs to take the lead and own this programme of work. It must also ensure that the future cohort of industry professionals are trained to higher standards than are currently expected. To support this, the ISSG wants higher education institutions to ensure that curriculums reflect the latest developments and requirements in building safety and future innovation to provide well-rounded education that creates a more informed and competent future workforce. We also expect to see a significant increase in the demand for and uptake of training across the whole sector and we will be monitoring this.


79. We will continue testing whether risks are understood, held and managed correctly within the system. This will include exploring the relationships between the construction and management sectors and the financial sector.


80. We intend to further check how the housing management and maintenance sector is responding to changes, including how residents are being supported to feel and be safe in their homes. Ensuring continued momentum to ensure best practice in the sector is being highlighted and the roles and responsibilities of residents are understood/promoted.

ISSG members


  • Dame Judith Hackitt DBE, Author, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety


  • Professor Atula Abeysekera, Professor of Practice (Risk Management), Imperial College London (additionally Senior Risk Officer at Cazenove Capital and Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments)

  • Elaine Bailey, Past Group CEO, Hyde Housing

  • Peter Baker, Chief Inspector of Buildings, Health and Safety Executive

  • Professor John Cole CBE, Construction and Procurement Industry Expert, RIBA

  • Nick Coombe, Protection Vice Chair, National Fire Chiefs Council

  • Alistair Gibb, Emeritus Professor of Construction Engineering Management, Loughborough University

  • Duncan Johnson (from June 2021), Deputy Director, Office of Product Safety and Standards, Construction Products Regulator

  • Paul Nash FCIOB, Past President 2016/17, Chartered Institute of Building

  • Ken Rivers, Past President, The Institution of Chemical Engineers (Chair, CoMAH Strategic Forum)

  • Fayann Simpson OBE, Resident Board Member, L&Q

  • Dr David Snowball CBE, Past Acting Chief Executive, Health and Safety Executive

  • Dr Scott Steedman CBE, Director of Standards, British Standards Institution