Building Standards Futures Board minutes: June 2022

Minutes from meeting 12 of the Scottish Government Building Standards Futures Board which took place on 15 June 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Patrick Harvie MSP, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenant’s Rights
  • Dave Aitken (DA), LABSS
  • Mike Foy (MF), CIOB
  • Gordon Nelson (GN), FMB
  • Euan Ryan (ER), RICS
  • Steve Fawcett (SF), Homes for Scotland
  • Stephen Good (SG), CSIC
  • Stephen Garvin (SGa) (Chair), Scottish Government
  • Colette Templeton (CT), Scottish Government
  • Neil Mitchell (NM), Scottish Government
  • Frank Doherty (FD), Scottish Government
  • Fiona Sinclair (FS), Scottish Government
  • Sarah Waugh (SW), Scottish Government
  • Steven Scott (SS), Scottish Government
  • Ken Craig (KC), Scottish Government
  • Graham Martin (GM), RIAS
  • Nigel Kerr (NK), Fife Council
  • James Whiteford (JW), Delivery Model Hub – Pilot, Fife Council
  • Alan McAulay (AMc), Delivery Model Hub – Pilot, Fife Council
  • Robert Storey (RS), SER, for the Certification Scheme Providers
  • John Paul Breslin (JPB), LABSS
  • Hew Edgar (HE), CIOB
  • Calum Lindsay (CL), COSLA


  • Robert Nicol (RN), COSLA
  • Colin Proctor (CP), Scottish Futures Trust
  • Craig Hatton (CH), SOLACE
  • Ron Fraser (RF), Construction Scotland
  • Linda Stewart (LS), Scottish Government
  • Cameron Murdoch (CM), Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies 

SGa stood in as Chair and welcomed all Board members to the meeting.

Apologies were noted from CH due to IT technical difficulties, as well as RN, CP, RF, LS and CM.

MF advised the Board that he would be stepping down from his role on the Futures Board and HE will be taking his place. SGa thanked MF for his work over the past 3 years and welcomed HE to the Board.

New member to the Board from the Certification Scheme Providers, Mark Lawler, who will represent the Certification Scheme Providers going forward was welcomed. Mark could not attend today’s meeting. Robert Storey (RS) attended today’s meeting in Mark’s place.

JPB, the new Chair of LABSS was welcomed to today’s meeting. New Building Standards Hub Pilot Directors AMc and JW, who will be in post for a period of up to 18 months, and NK, Head of Protective Services, Fife Council were all also attending today’s meeting.

SGa thanked Nicola Barclay who has now left Homes for Scotland and welcomed SF who will now represent HfS on the Board.

SGa welcomed Patrick Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenant’s Rights to today’s meeting. The Minister expressed his thanks for the invitation acknowledging the work undertaken to strengthen the building standards system going forward. He also acknowledged the 5 year anniversary of the fire at Grenfell Tower.

Note of meeting on 17 February 2022 and action points paper 53 (15/06/2022)

The Board noted a minor change in the note of the previous meeting which will be updated after the meeting. Paragraph 7 should be changed to read:

“fire engineering proposals which can in some cases cost the equivalent of a building warrant fee”.

The Note of previous meeting was then agreed by the Board.

CT led the board through Action Points Paper 53.

Action point 1: Update on PII position in England. MF advised that a round table event took place in London a few months ago and was chaired by the Chair of ABI where it was agreed that there needs to be a joined up approach following the Grenfell fire incident. The insurance industry expressed their desire to support construction professionals going forward but highlighted the need for the construction industry to improve working practices.

Action point 2: CT advised that an invitation to tender for the Compliance Plan Manager role on high risk buildings was issued on 14/06/2022. This research project will involve working with professional bodies to develop the role. BSD are developing a Compliance Early Adopters pack.

Action point 3: Certification - CT advised this action has been resolved and closed.

Action point 4: BSD (Delivery Model work stream). CT advised the Board that a meeting between BSD and the Hub directors is taking place next week in DH to discuss this.

Action point 5: BSD (Digital work stream) - Closed and to be discussed later in the meeting.

Action point 6: BSD (Digital work stream) - Closed and to be discussed later in the meeting.

Construction Leadership Forum and Transformation Sub Group - update

An update wasn’t provided as RF was unable to attend the meeting.

Delivery model work stream: paper 54 (15/06/2022)

NM led the Board through Paper 54 advising that significant work is underway in the work stream to deliver the Strategy approved at the previous meeting.

Background was provided on the work being taken forward within the Delivery Model work stream. The Fire (Safety) and Compliance and Enforcement Review Panels, set up following the fire at Grenfell Tower, identified that the Building Standards systems in Scotland was not broken but would benefit from some strengthening. The potential for a ‘national or central Hub’, which could include the provision of sharing of expertise and staff resources particularly in relation to specialist and safety critical areas, such as fire and structural engineering and potentially the energy design of more complex buildings were recommended.

The Delivery Model Working Group (WG) was set up to consider the recommendations made by the Review Panels, the associated research and then to develop options for a future Delivery Model that would provide the necessary strengthening of the building standards system. A central verification support hub with appropriate regional strengthening was subsequently recommended by the WG. The WG recognised the existing central support provided by Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS) and agreed that the LABSS Options Appraisal on a proposed Central Building Standards Hub including proposals for enhanced regional partnerships should be investigated.

The WG last met on 22 November 2021 and Frank McCafferty of the Wheatley Group has been appointed as the new Chair, following the departure of Tom Barclay. NM thanked Tom Barclay for his support on the work of the Delivery Model.

Over the past 6 months BSD have been working in partnership with LABSS and Fife Council to develop and establish the Building Standards Hub Pilot. The pilot is now live with the two Hub Directors, AMc, previously South Lanarkshire Council and JW, from Scottish Borders Council, in post from 23 May 2022 for a period of up to 18 months. NM thanked AMc, JW and also NK for all their work getting the project to this point.

The BSD/LABSS Delivery Model Development Group (DMDG) is in place to set up and support the Hub Pilot. The Group’s next meeting is Wednesday 22 June 2022. An in-person meeting with the Directors and BSD is taking place on Tuesday 21 June 2022.

NM discussed that the Hub Pilot will also look at how it can support other Futures Board work streams. Working to support the Workforce Strategy there are proposals to add a Learning and Development Manager to the Hub Pilot to support education within local authority building standards.

Any permanent central hub will require to be funded and NM reported that research is being undertaken through the Delivery Model work steam to review the current building warrant fee levels and look at potential future fee requirements. It is expected that this research will report in October and it is anticipated that a next stage fee research  project will then be required.   

BSD met with the SG Audit Team regarding governance of the Hub Pilot to agree the appropriate level of oversight. It was agreed that an additional steering group was not needed but a “critical friend” would be a good option. This role will be developed and discussed with the Hub pilot before an appointment is made.

Next steps

NM outlined the next steps for the work stream and the intention to follow up on the “critical friend” role.

AMc advised that it is critical for the Hub Directors to understand the need of verifiers and identify what support they can give to the Hub Pilot. Meetings with leads of the consortia groups will be undertaken to facilitate this joined up approach and to allow managers to understand how the Hub Pilot will work for them. This engagement will allow the Directors to understand what needs to be delivered for LAs and what services could be enhanced/complimented.

JW informed the meeting that the scope of work and draft project plan are in place and these will continue to be developed and updated. Further work has been undertaken to set out priorities under 7 work stages.

The Board heard that LAs are under resource pressures. The Hub Pilot will not dilute or replace current resources but will aim to provide better and more robust approaches. NK advised that the model, if successful, could potentially be adopted by other LA services.

The Board expressed its support for the hub and GN asked:

Q: “What are the key measures of success and what will be used to measure success”?

A: success measures have been identified for each work plan these will be monitored and tracked. Overall there have already been a number of quick wins and the Hub Pilot are in the process of engaging with all 32 LAs to ensure buy in at service manager level and CEO level. 

The decision on a permanent Hub was raised and it was explained that over the next 18 months evidence to support the decision including how it is financed and where it is hosted will be gathered. The need to identify governance and hosting options as well as scale and capability were raised. The Board agreed that a decision point on any permanent solution needs to be reached by the WG around the 12 month point.

NM advised that the new chair of the WG has been made aware of these timings and recognised that the WG will need to work at pace over the coming months. Review meetings will be scheduled at 3 monthly intervals going forward.

SG advised that BE-ST have provided low carbon training which could be extended for verifiers to attend. SG to follow up with AMc and JW in due course.

Action: The Futures Board agenda to include a standing update from the Delivery Model work stream to provide progress on the Hub.

Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights 

The Minister addressed the Board and added his support to the establishment of the Hub. There is considerable work to be undertaken over the next 18 months and the scale and importance of this should not be underestimated. The pilot will be used to support the case for a permanent solution as well as supporting how services will be delivered in the future.

The Minister thanked the Board for the invitation to attend today’s meeting and advised that he will continue to receive, from officials regular progress updates on the work being taken forward.

SGa thanked the Minister for joining.

Business – building standards: update

SGa led the Group through the Building Standards update.

It was advised that changes to energy standards and fire safety standards were laid in parliament on 22 April 2022. The changes to Section 2, Fire came into effect on 1 June and the introduction of changes to Section 6, Energy will come into force later in the year. New energy targets for buildings will focus on reducing energy demand on insulation and materials in new homes. Further forums will be set up going forward in order to help bring industry together with the work needed to deliver these new standards.

SG discussed that meetings have taken place that will help to support the journey towards the new energy standards, planned to be introduced in 2024.

SS advised that the updated Technical Handbooks have recently been published on the SG website in pdf format with html to follow. The publications include amendments to Section 0 (general) and Section 2 (fire) which apply from 1 June 2022; and further amendments to Section 3 (environment), Section 6 (energy) and Section 7 (sustainability) which will apply from 1 December 2022.

Work steam update June 2022 – paper 55 (15/06/2022)

CT led the Board through the work streams update paper 55.

Compliance Plan approach and strategy

Green RAG rating.

The Compliance Plan Working Group chaired by Gordon Nelson first met on 01 October 2020. The development of the Compliance Plan and Compliance Plan Manager role has been supported by the Working Group and a number of sub groups.

The Strategy for the Compliance Plan Approach was approved by the Working Group at its last meeting and is being presented to the Board today for agreement and sign off. The Board were content to agree and sign off the Strategy.

The proposed role of the Compliance Plan Manager (CPM) and introduction of a Compliance Plan (CP) received support through the Compliance and Enforcement consultation. Research is being commissioned to develop the CPM role through engagement with stakeholders and the Insurance Industry particularly in relation to PII.

CT advised the development of an Enforcement Handbook is ongoing and is expected to be published autumn 2022. The Compliance Handbook is also being scoped and a decision on how this will be drafted will be taken shortly.

The development of an Earlier Adopters pack to support the Compliance Plan has started which will allow both the Compliance Plan and CPM role to be rolled out.

CT advised that progress across the work stream may be limited due to limitations on staff and financial resources.

Workforce Strategy

Green RAG rating.

The progress of this work stream is well developed and set out in the Workforce strategy published on 01 October 2020.

The team is currently looking to commission research to review the Competence Assessment system, introduced to verifiers to identify improvements as well making it more streamlined with a possible IT solution going into next year.

Supported through the Futures Board, LABSS is undertaking work to develop a learning and development tool that will provide an online learning environment for building standards training. Recruitment of a Training and Development Manager to support  education within the new Building Standards Hub Pilot is also being taken forward.

Certification Strategy

Amber RAG rating due to the team leader vacancy. 

The work stream is taking forward the strategy and has in place bi-monthly Scheme Provider meetings. A Communications Group has also been set up. Work to put in place a more joined up partnership with scheme providers is underway.

JPB asked about delays to the delivery of the certification strategy. CT advised that the team have regular meetings with scheme providers and work is being progressed within the resources available. The Certification Strategy is being updated.

Action: BSD to meet JPB and provide an update across all work streams.

Verification Standard

Green RAG rating.

The Local Authority Building Standards customer satisfaction survey went live in April 2022 and allows for real time data collection. It was agreed that this is a really good tool for Local Authorities as they will be able to see customer satisfaction in real time and deal with issues as they arise.

It was advised that this work stream has been paused due to limited financial resources. Any further development of this work stream will be considered as work on the Delivery Model work stream progresses.

Technical Strategy

Amber RAG rating due to limitation of resources.

The Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) Guidance document is currently being prepared for use by verifiers to support the checking of building warrants submitted using this construction method.

There is a review to be undertaken of the Building Standards Technical Handbooks to look at how the documents are authored and published. However, this is dependent on both staff and financial resources.

Digital transformation – update paper 56 

FD led the Board through Update Paper 56 for the Digital Transformation programme and provided additional information on work currently being undertaken.

It was confirmed that Building Standards is now within the scope of the Digital Planning project, as mutual benefits and joint interests have been highlighted. It may be necessary for Building Standards to assist by providing part-time assistance from someone with SME (subject matter expertise) when going forward. It is hoped that this and other developments will lead to a digital ecosystem (a group of interconnected information technology resources that can function as a unit).

FD advised that Futures Board members may receive a request for assistance in recommending people with appropriate SME when further details are available.

Anyone interested in further details or assisting can contact FD directly.

FD provided detail on the current work being undertaken in partnership with BE-ST to support digital and mobile app solutions. This work includes discovery projects that would be undertaken while looking at what specifications are sensible and realistic. BE-ST have engaged with ENU (Edinburgh Napier University) who will scope the discovery projects (to be termed as a pathfinder study) to review all aspects of the proposals in order to make sure we get what we need out of investment. FD advised that in the next few weeks we should have that work finalised and at the next Futures Board meeting a more substantial update can be provided.

FD gave an update on the CivTech Challenge project and intimated that a few entrepreneurs have expressed an interest in developing a digital solution to increase the  numbers of notifications being sent to verifiers requesting site visits at key intervals, which is aimed to improve compliance. It is hoped that a data base containing most frequent found faults can also be developed. CivTech initial submissions to be submitted by close of play 28 June and the final contractor chosen after interviews on 9 September.

Futures Board risk management strategy – paper 57 

CT presented a Risk Management Strategy and Paper 57.

CT advised that each work stream maintains its own risk register with risks being managed at a local level. To date nothing has needed to be raised to the Futures Board level. There is however a need to put in place a risk register at Board level. This is extremely important as the work streams move forward to delivery phases and recognising that resources both in terms of staffing and finance are tight across Scottish Government and Local Authorities.

Paper 57 sets out the risk proposals and seeks the Board’s view on the frequency on which it should see and proposes a risk matrix for agreement. As part of the paper two risks regarding budgeting and resourcing were being reported.

It was agreed that the Board should receive a full risk register once a year with risks that  score 15 and above (red) should be reported at each meeting.

Risk Management Strategy Paper 58 (15/06/2022)

The Risk Strategy Paper was agreed by the Board.


SG provided links for information and for Board members to cascade for further sharing within industries.

Date of meetings 2022:

  • meeting 13: 20 October 2022
  • 2023 meetings to be scheduled

The board agreed that moving into 2023 meetings would revert to quarterly. This will allow progress across the work streams to be reported quicker as well as reduce the duration of the meeting.

The board agreed that it would meet in-person at least once a year, with the 20 October 2022 meeting, subject to confirmation by the Chair, taking place both in-person and via teams where members are unable to attend. SG offered the use of the BE-ST offices in Hamilton for future meetings.

SGa closed the meeting and thanked everyone for their work and attendance.

Action points

  • note of meeting 17 February 2022: Paragraph 7 to be changed to say -  “fire engineering proposals which can in some cases cost the equivalent of a building warrant fee”
  • SG advised that BE-ST have provided low carbon training which could be extended for verifiers to attend. SG to follow up with AMc and JW in due course
  • the Futures Board agenda to include a standing update from the Delivery Model work stream to provide progress on the Hub
  • BSD to meet JPB and provide an update across all work streams
  • anyone interested in further details or assisting in recommending people with appropriate SME should contact FD directly
  • risk register to become a standing agenda item
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