Building and fire safety working group minutes: June 2020

Minutes of the meeting of the ministerial working group on building and fire safety that took place on 11 June 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning (Chair)
  • Minister for Community Safety
  • Stephen Garvin, Head of Building Standards Division
  • Tom Hardy, Safer Communities Division
  • Naeem Bhatti, Better Homes Division
  • Alasdair Perry, SFRS Deputy Assistant Chief Officer
  • Stephen Wood, SFRS Area Manager
  • Graeme Fraser, HM Fire Service Inspectorate
  • Connie Smith, Safer Communities Division 
  • Karen Coyne, Better Homes Division
  • Bill Connolly, Health Facilities Scotland
  • Shona Harper, Building Standards Division
  • William Hamilton, Building Standards Division


  • Stephen Gallagher, Director Local Government & Communities
  • Shirley Laing, Director for Housing and Social Justice
  • Wendy Wilkinson, Deputy Director Safer Communities Division
  • Simon Routh-Jones, HM Fire Service Inspectorate
  • Stuart Stevens, SFRS
  • Tom Steele, Greater Glasgow & Clyde Health Board
  • Alan Morrison, Health Finance Division

Items and actions

Welcome and action points from previous meeting

It was noted that the minutes of the previous MWG meeting held on Tuesday 04 February 2020 were agreed and published.

Update on previously agreed action points:

  • SG officials to prepare letter for the Minister to send to the Chief Executive of each outstanding local authority to flag the importance of this information being completed. COMPLETED
  • SG officials to provide updates to the Minister in regards to the BSI review of BS 8414 and what is happening in Europe regarding the fire test. IN PROGRESS. SG officials provided an oral update and will keep the Minister updated on this issue
  • SG officials to provide the Minister with an update on the issue surrounding external wall insulation systems with a brick-slip finish.  COMPLETED

Grenfell Tower Inquiry: phase one report – Scottish Government and SFRS response 

Officials presented a paper on this item including progress of the Grenfell Inquiry Fire Safety Working Group with SFRS representatives providing an oral update.

At the previous MWG held on the 04 February 2020, it was agreed officials would develop a report setting out:

  • where, how and to what extent, Scotland already meets the intended outcomes of any recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase 1 report (through existing guidance or policies)
  • where and why the intended outcomes of any recommendations are not currently being met in Scotland, but will be via ongoing actions
  • where and why the intended outcomes of any recommendations are not currently being met in Scotland and planned actions to address these gaps
  • where legislation is recommended, detail will be provided as to why this will or will not be mirrored in Scotland

Officials advised an initial draft of the report has been completed but still required in depth scrutiny and consideration from colleagues within the Scottish Government and external partners who have been diverted to Covid-19 issues. Subject to ongoing Covid-19 response considerations, the aim is to deliver an interim version of the Scottish Government Response to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase 1 report in November 2020 with the intention to deliver a final report when engagement with appropriate stakeholders and in depth scrutiny of the report has been able to take place. 

SFRS representatives advised that although 31 recommendations were directed to London Fire Brigade directly, SFRS had reviewed these as if directed to themselves. A GAP analysis had been carried out and an action plan is in place. Scrutiny is being provided by the Service Delivery Board and Service Delivery Committee. 

Action points:

  • SG officials to provide Ministers with a copy of the draft report as currently stands
  • SG officials to continue to monitor timelines with possibility of moving forward deadline for producing the report ahead of November and to provide regular updates to Ministers on the position of the UK Government Fire Safety Bill

Scottish Advice Note on cladding

Officials provided an update on work to produce a Scottish Advice Note on cladding. This followed the UK Government publishing a Consolidated Advice Note on the 20 January 2020 that set out revised guidance in relation to external wall cladding on buildings. Following advice to Ministers, officials were asked to develop a specific Scottish Advice Note.

A Technical Working Group (TWG) had been established and had met three times. The work of the group would feed into this MWG, but also the MWG on Mortgage Lending and Cladding.  

Draft guidance had been produced and officials were reviewing comments from TWG members. The guidance although has a number of similarities to the UK Government version for England, there were also key differences to note that included:

  • the Scottish version is ‘risk based’ (a key point expressed by the TWG) and less prescriptive than the English Consolidated Advice Note
  • the ‘risk based’ approach will allow greater judgement to be made by competent professionals to assess the life risk to residents and occupiers of residential buildings when considering the fire spread on external wall systems
  • tupplementary guidance on matters such as fire doors and smoke control systems will not be provided in the Scottish Advice Note as this guidance is already covered in the sectorial guidance issued under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005

Although Ministers understood the TWG’s reasoning not to include guidance on areas covered in the sectorial guidance issued under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, it was requested that this still be highlighted and cross referenced within the advice note.

There was discussion regarding the consultation of the Scottish Advice Note on Cladding and the importance of liaison with key stakeholders such as UK Finance, the Association of British Insurers and the three Resilience Groups that are quite extensive and currently examining the housing sector recovery. Ministers also identified the need for wider consultation with the public, possibly an in-depth consultation but the need to work with marketing colleagues to ensure technical elements are communicated in a way that non-technical people can understand.  A consultation plan is to be drafted and shared with Ministers within a couple of weeks of this meeting. 

Action point:

  • SG officials to provide Ministers with a draft consultation plan for the Scottish Advice Note on cladding

HPL data collection exercise

Officials provided an update on the work that had been requested by Ministers at the October 2019 MWG to be undertaken for a data collection exercise to establish the prevalence of external HPL cladding in buildings across Scotland.

A discussion followed the update paper, including the linking of findings to work also being carried out on the previous agenda point – the Scottish Advice Note on Cladding. This included the need to notify owners of buildings with HPL be notified on publication of the Scottish Advice Note when this takes place.

Ministers accepted the recommendations as set out in the paper but following what was currently taking place in England regarding the remediation of non-ACM cladding on buildings, asked officials to prepare a paper for their consideration about this and the unintended consequences of banning ACM-PE and HPL across the board.

Action point:

  • SG Officials to provide Ministers with a paper regarding the possible unintended consequences of banning ACM-PE and HPL cladding

MWG programme of work – update 

Remediation Fund

Officials advised that following the UK Government budget announcement of £1 billion remediation fund for the social and private sector, discussions are on-going with central finance to determine action that can be taken in Scotland. Currently waiting on advice from due to ongoing Covid-19 situation.

Action point:

  • SG officials to keep ministers informed of discussions with finance colleagues

Glasgow Harbour

Officials advised that Taylor Wimpey had confirmed it was ready to commence with the replacement of ACM-PE cladding at the Glasgow Harbour development. The programme is expected to take two years to complete and officials will continue to liaise with Taylor Wimpey and Glasgow City Council during these works.  

Ministers asked to be kept posted on this piece of work and that officials ensure developers adhere to guidance especially working through these times of Covid-19 to keep residents as well as workers safe.

Health Facilities update

The Health Facilities Scotland representative advised that there was no update at this time. However, he took the opportunity to note the collaborative working with SFRS with regards to the completion of NHS Louisa Jordan temporary hospital. Ministers also acknowledged the cooperation from all parties including building contractors.

MWG on Mortgage Lending and Cladding

Officials updated that the first meeting of the Ministerial Working Group on mortgages and cladding took place on the 28 April 2020 with key stakeholders participating. Points had been identified and a smaller working group is to be convened to take these forward. It was noted that considerable correspondence on this topic is still being received.

Programme updates

Officials advised that the summary of the High Rise Inventory for domestic buildings was published on 20 March 2020.

It was also advised that the White Goods Campaign Programme had now come to a natural conclusion in regards to the workstream for this MWG. Elements of the work will be incorporated in the Electrical Safety Working Group being taken forward elsewhere in the Scottish Government.

SFRS representatives asked that it be noted that the bullet point under the work programme for ‘Fire and Carbon Monoxide Detection’ indicated that SFRS had currently suspended all Home Fire Safety Visits. It was advised that these are continuing but at a much lower rate of 150/200 per week for the most vulnerable in society at this time due to Covid-19.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry: phase two

Officials advised that due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, the public hearings to the inquiry had been halted since March and have advised that these should recommence on the 6th July 2020 if there is no change to public health messages in England. Officials will continue to monitor the situation and update Ministers.  

AOB and date of future meetings

The MWG agreed the next meeting would be scheduled for the end November/early December.



Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
EH1 3DG 

Building and fire safety working group

Back to top