The Building Safety Competence Foundation (BSCF) welcomes the Building Safety Act which received Royal Assent in April 2022. The 252-page bill, which started its passage through Parliament in July 2021, will improve building standards, ensure the safety of residents, and protect leaseholders from the costs of any remedial work. The new Act sees the creation of a new construction products regulator with the power to remove products from the market and a new building safety regulator.
Dame Judith Hackitt’s Final Report recommended that those working in the construction industry must prove their competence. In 2018 LABC took on Dame Judith’s challenge to prove the competency of building control professionals. Working with the Institution of Fire Engineers, LABC developed a competency validation assessment for Building Regulation Fire Safety in Higher Risk Buildings.
To ensure there is a truly robust and impartial validation of building control professionals’ competence this scheme was moved out of the control of LABC to the BSCF in 2021. Its purpose is to deliver exemplary training and education pathways to people working in the built environment. The Foundation will, through its accredited learning and validation processes, raise standards in technical competence and restore faith in the ability of the industry to deliver safer buildings. The Foundation aims to become the centre of excellence for practitioners, regulators, and decision makers across the industry.
The Foundation is also involved in a programme of positive engagement with Government, industry leaders, professional bodies, trade associations, academics, and other key stakeholders, focusing on key industry challenges and solutions.
The Building Safety Competence Foundation (BSCF) is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company. To ensure transparency and impartiality, the BSCF’s governance model includes, in addition to public service building control representatives, independent directors Lord Porter (Local Government Association), Nick Coombe (National Fire Chiefs Council), Graham Watts (Construction Industry Council) and Paul Timmins (Construction Industry Council Approved Inspectors Register).
The BSCF has pledged full support for the development of the new secondary legislation which will follow and of course for the new Building Control regime under Peter Baker, HSE’s Chief Inspector of Buildings.
The Foundation particularly welcomes the new focus on improving competence across all sectors engaged in the design, construction, maintenance, management, and regulation of residential buildings. There is widespread recognition that despite the 5-year lead-in period, publication of this Act will come as a shock to many people in the wider industry who have not yet started preparing for the changes to come.
The registration of the building control profession is one of the most significant impacts of the Building Safety Act and will affect all English and Welsh local authorities – not just those with tall residential buildings. Everyone working in building control, in both the private and public sector, will soon have to register if they want to continue to practise. All surveyors will need to undertake regular formal assessment of competence as part of the process. The BSCF will deliver competency validation industry wide.
The BSCF is working closely with UKAS towards accreditation under ISO/IEC 17024 (conformity assessment for bodies operating the certification of persons), with UKAS certification anticipated this summer. The registration of building control professionals is expected to require proof of competence via a UKAS- or Engineering Council-accredited scheme. The ISO accreditation will allow the BSCF to deliver such competency assessments. The Foundation is now offering competence validation assessments at domestic, general and specialist levels to the whole building control profession and is actively engaging with private sector building control approvers to gain their trust in delivering this important verification of professional competence.
Lorna Stimpson, BSCF chief executive, says: “The Building Safety Bill is the most significant piece of legislation affecting the built environment in decades. The new safety regime means more duties for local authorities and a requirement for registration of the building control profession. The BSCF will help ensure that all building control professionals are both ready for these changes and most importantly are able to demonstrably prove their competence.”