Building Standards Futures Board minutes: August 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the Building Standards Futures Board on 24 August 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Craig Hatton (CH) Chair, Chief Executive, North Ayrshire Council
  • James Whiteford (JW), Director, Building Standards Hub
  • Alan McAulay (AMc), Director, Building Standards Hub
  • Steve Fawcett (SF), Homes for Scotland
  • Jocelyne Fleming (JF), CIOB
  • Stephen Good (SG), Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST)
  • Robert Toomey (RT), RICS
  • Robert Nicol (RN), COSLA
  • Mark Lawler (ML), SER
  • Colin Proctor (CP), Scottish Futures Trust (SFT)
  • Gordon Nelson (GN), FMB
  • John-Paul Breslin (JPB), Chair, LABSS
  • Tamsie Thomson (TT), RIAS
  • Neil Mitchell (NM), Scottish Government
  • Stephen Garvin (SGa), Scottish Government
  • Colette Templeton (CT), Scottish Government
  • Fiona Sinclair (FS), Scottish Government
  • Cameron Murdoch (CM), Scottish Government
  • Ken Craig (KC), Scottish Government
  • Steven Scott (SC), Scottish Government


  • Ron Fraser (RF), Construction Scotland
  • Robert Storey (RS), SER
  • Nigel Kerr (NK), Fife Council
  • Frank McCafferty, Wheatley Group

Items and actions

Note of Meeting on 09 May 2023 and Action Points Paper 78 (24/08/2023)

The note of the previous meeting was approved by the Board.

Action Points Paper 78

The actions will be covered throughout the meeting.


Construction Leadership Forum and Transformation Subgroup

CP provided an update.

Three Construction Leadership Forum meetings have taken place.

The Senior Management Team are leading on work relating to construction inflation. There’s a lack of data representation within the Scottish market so BCS have been encouraged to set up a panel in Scotland to help.

Market demand within the public sector is levelling however the private sector is still busy.

The Transformation Subgroup continues to progress. Workshops have taken place to explore how the various working groups can push different areas for development. The Transformation Plan has been pushed back to October 2023. This will continue to be developed over time.

The Chair thanked CP for the update.

SGa raised a question regarding the work on inflation asking if the general consensus is that inflation is higher or lower in Scotland? It was discussed that the current picture suggests that inflation is around the same as in England however it can vary greatly out with the central belt.

JF added that CIOB reported earlier in 2023 that rural and Highland Scotland showed significant inflation compared to other areas.

Building Standards, Building Safety Act 2002 and New Building Safety Regulator in England

SGa provided an update.

The Building Standards Verifiers re-appointment took place within all 32 Local Authorities (LA) and has been positive. The appointment period is currently 6 years.

BSD will be looking to set up a Working Group around competence.

New Building Safety Act regulations in England were published and will come into effect from October 2023. These will affect any new builds that are in scope or existing buildings that require a building warrant.

HSE has published a new guidance document on High Risk Buildings (HRBs) which is similar to the BSD Procedural Handbook. The requirement to demonstrate competence for designers and contractors is highlighted.

An update was provided on the Energy Standards Review. Working Groups and subgroups are meeting regularly. The Passivhaus Equivalent Standards is very robustly certified, Fife Carnegie Campus School at Dunfermline is an example of this. The requirement for this to fit into Compliance work through the FB is recognised. Regulations need to be delivered by mid December 2024 however implementation periods after this should be reviewed. 

Recommendations for electric vehicle charging points came into effect in June 2023.

The Cameron House Hotel Fatal Accident Enquiry Short Life Running Group continues with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and the hotel industry. A report on this will be published which should lead to new regulations that will come under Compliance.

There was a discussion around Net Zero and Passivhaus. The Chair added that compliance around Net Zero is a massive issue, it will be interesting to see how it will be achieved. There was agreement on this and an interest in how Passivhaus as an approach can be implemented as an aligned standard.

Work Stream Update August 2023: Paper 79 (24/08/2023)

CT delivered Paper 79 providing an update on the work streams not covered by the main papers at today’s meeting.

The RAG status measuring progress on each is:

  • Digital Transformation – RAG status is currently green
  • Compliance Plan Approach – RAG status is currently green
  • Workforce Strategy – RAG status is currently green
  • Certification Strategy – RAG status is currently green
  • Verification Standard – RAG status is currently green
  • Technical Strategy – RAG status is currently green

The question was raised on what professional organisations sit within the Compliance Plan Working Group? It was advised that the membership list would be issued to CP after the meeting.

Action: BSD to send the CPWG membership list to CP for information.

The BSD Workforce Team will present at the November FB following the end of the 3 year Workforce Strategy and will provide an update on the Modern Apprentice (MA) Programme.

The Chair expressed disappointment on the uptake of the MA Programme across LAs. The number of MAs beginning their building standards training in September falls far short on the numbers needed to ensure that the profession grows. The Chair advised he will discuss this further with colleagues in SOLACE.

Action: Chair to discuss the MA Programme with colleagues in SOLACE and report back to the Board.

Verification Delivery Model

Work Stream Update: Paper 80 (24/08/2023)

CM provided an update to the Group.

The Technical Business Case Report (BCR) was put forward to the Delivery Model Working Group (WG) and FB in February 2023, where the principles of the BSH were agreed with recommendations that a high-level, strategic Business Case be developed for consideration by senior government officials and Scottish Ministers. These recommendations were reflected within the new Business Case which will be presented later at today’s meeting.

An update paper was presented to SOLACE seeking invitations for potential host authorities for the BSH. No further offers for this position were received and work is underway with Fife Council to take on this role, subject to final agreement with Fife Council.

Research to Review the Building Standards Income and Level of Reinvestment in Service Delivery (Fees Part 1 Research) is now complete. Research to Provide a Future Building Warrant Fee Model (Fees Part 2 Research) is also complete and both projects have been published on the Scottish Government website. These projects have been used to inform the current public consultation on building warrant fees.

The public consultation is currently live until 24 October 2023, with 29 responses to date.

The proposed changes to building warrant fees will introduce a 3-year model to increase fees across all value of work bands to strengthen and improve the building standards system in Scotland. Changes will also include the introduction of an enhanced fee for High Risk Building warrant applications.

The public consultation is split over 5 sections covering building warrant fees, high risk buildings, enforcement and devolved fees. Questions have also been included to seek views on any additional impact of increasing fees. Proposed changes are planned to  take effect from April 2024 with the approach of fee increases being reviewed yearly and adjusted dependent on performance and reporting.

Delivery Model Hub Update: Progress

The Delivery Model Development Group (DMDG) continues to meet on a monthly basis and regular progress meetings with COSLA and other stakeholders continue. COSLA officials presented an update on the FB and BSH to their Environment and Economy Board in March 2023. Feedback from this was positive.

The DMWG will review its Terms of Reference to reflect the acceptance of the BC and the future remit of the Group.

The Delivery Model team will look to work with the Scottish Legal Directorate on changes to fees.

The Risk Register was presented to the Board and updates were provided on the relevant risks. The Board were content with the risk levels.

The Chair asked what the current consensus was with responses that have been received for the public consultation?

CM advised responses are mixed but mainly positive. Enhanced fees for High Risk buildings has clear support as does support for having fees set at a national level.

It is hoped to reach around 100 responses where possible. Engagement sessions have taken place with more scheduled to promote the consultation in the near future.

Directors provided an update to the Board.

The Directors have assisted Optimal Economics with the development of the BCR for the BSH. The Directors are taking forward work on a number of fronts to support a BSH. 

This includes, among other things, staff contractual arrangements including getting agreement that Hub staff will be classed as ‘working from home’, recruitment, a Hub website, branding and financial risk and indemnity.

It is hoped that if the BCR is approved through all the necessary processes work can begin on recruitment for the Directors posts. This will be dependent on agreeing a suitable funding mechanism for Hub funding. 

Work on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will soon begin and instructions on Hub specific procedures and mechanisms to ensure competence of staff will be developed.

AMc advised the Board that stakeholder engagement is ongoing. Meetings with Scheme Providers have taken place to discuss how Certification can be supported and how this can support STAS. Other Building Standards System services are busy, with several dispute resolution cases being administered as well as changes to Technical Standards.

The Fire Engineering Hub has been set up and the Group have met twice with the next meeting scheduled for September 2023. Outcomes of the meetings are published on the LABSS website.

Action: AMc to share the link to the Fire Engineering Hub meeting notes with the Group.

The Directors are continuing to work with Learning Pool on the Learning Management System (LMS) which is now being moved to the testing stage. Module One is now completed. Work to digitise the competency system is being considered.

The Directors will be presenting at stakeholder events over the next few months as promotion for the BSH.

SGa asked a question regarding the intended MoU between the BSH and all local authorities, enquiring what progress was being made in its development?

JW confirmed that the MoU was in place in draft format but could not be concluded until such time as the funding mechanism to Fife Council to support the BSH was known, as this would have implications as to how heavy or light the MoU and accompanying service level agreement (SLA) would be.

JW confirmed that the preferential model for Fife Council would be to obtain funding annually in a lump sum direct from Scottish Government as opposed to an invoice and recovery mechanism with 32 different local authorities.

JW confirmed that the memorandum was intended to be relatively simple and light in order to obtain buy in from local authority Chief Executives.

The appendix accompanying the MoU essentially forms the SLA on the part of the BSH and to what services and activities the BSH will provide for verifiers. The only ask of local authorities is that they firstly engage with their respective consortia groups and secondly, each consortia provides a Lead and Technical Lead to participate on the Consortia Technical Working Group (CTWG) and LABSS Digital Delivery Group (LABSS DDG). This is what local authorities do at present, and the introduction of the BSH will not change this current arrangement, but merely formalise matters. Technical Leads support the verifier position in relation to technical and procedural matters regarding the Technical Standards. Similarly, Leads represent verifier position on matters of a digital and transformational nature.

There was further discussion regarding the BSH funding mechanism and JW confirmed, as part of the current change management exercise, that mechanisms will need to be put in place to ensure money invested in the BSH would stay with the Hub. This will safeguard the BSH budget.

Business Case: Paper 81 (24/08/2023)

NM presented the Business Case to the Group.

The high level areas of the document were discussed detailing the journey of the Hub and the WGs ambition that a central BSH should strengthen the building standards system in Scotland. The Options Appraisal from LABSS was accepted by the WG and members agreed that a central Hub should be as big as made sense to support the system. 

The Pilot Hub began in May 2022 and as part of their work the Hub Directors were asked to develop a BCR. The Technical Business Case Report was presented to the WG and FB in February 2023. Following recommendations from the Board, the BCR was updated to reflect the input and changes.

The BCR being considered today sets out the strategic considerations in support of a BSH. The “do nothing” question was considered however it was determined if nothing was done then there would be no changes or improvements to the system, therefore it was concluded that there is a strong strategic case to establish the Hub.

CP commented on the BC adding that it seemed light on the specialist areas and that it’s not fully clear on what the Fire Hub and Structural Hub is. If more money is being asked for then the significant additions should be shown clearer. CP also raised the point regarding governance and how an Advisory Board would fit into this?

CP commented advising that making additions to the economic case would be beneficial, a small saving in time or similar can have a multiplier effect as it works through the system. It was discussed that the analysis of the BSH within the earlier Business Case Report was based on the economic potential for STAS. It is the intention of the BSH to proactively seek more STAS applications.

The question was raised if there will be an overall Lead above the Directors? It was advised that the BC shows clearly the requirement and split of responsibilities between both Director posts. The Directors report to Nigel Kerr Head of Protective Services. The BC will be updated to make this information clearer.

There was a discussion around what the BSH will mean in terms of the role of LABSS in the future. LABSS is currently undertaking work to review what is required from the organisation in the future. Discussions with members are ongoing.

The Chair added that strengthening the areas around specialist services and economic case within the BC is required.

Action: BC to be strengthened as far as possible in the sections regarding specialist services and economic case.

RN added when the Board has concluded the BC, a paper will be presented to the Environment and Economy Board (EEB) at the start of November 2023.

The Chair asked:

  • do members have any points or issues they would like to raise from their consideration of the Business Case?

No further points were raised.

  • is the Board content to endorse the Business Case, as presented for a BSH?

The Board agreed they are content with the BC after the additions have been made.

  • are the Board happy for BSD to finalise the work and seek agreement from the Minister? 

The Board agreed.

To allow members extra time for comment, the Board were asked to provide any additional thoughts on the BC to BSD by 6 September 2023.

Action: Board members to provide any additional comments on the BC to BSD by 6 September 2023.

Futures Board Risk Management

Risk Register – Paper 82 (24/08/2023)

CT delivered Paper 82 and updated the Board on the position of current risks.

Risks are manageable at the moment, no issues to highlight.

Programme beyond 2023

Programme beyond 2023 – Paper 83 (24/08/2023)

NM advised that a review will be carried out on next steps for the FB. Initial thoughts were around recognising priorities and the alignment of workstreams, Verification Standards for example, should be taken into the Delivery Model workstream and the Technical Strategy could be moved to the Technical Unit Team to develop and support on an on-going basis.

Further work will be undertaken over the next few months to review the workstreams and a plan will be presented to the Board early next year.

Any Other Business

Dates of 2023 meetings:

  • 14 November 2023 – virtual via Microsoft Teams

There was agreement that the meeting schedule for 2024 would revert back to 3 meetings a year.

The Chair thanked everyone for their attendance and contributions and closed the meeting.


  • BSD to send the CPWG membership list to CP for information
  • chair to discuss the MA Programme with colleague in SOLACE and report back to the Board
  • AMc to share the link to the Fire Engineering Hub meeting notes with the Group
  • BC to be strengthened as far as possible in the sections regarding specialist services and economic case
  • board members to provide any additional comments on the BC to BSD by 6 September 2023
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