Building Standards Futures Board minutes: December 2019

Minutes from the fourth meeting of the Building Standards Futures Board, held on 19 December 2019.

Attendees and apologies


  • Aubrey Fawcett (Chair), SOLACE
  • Dave Aitken (DA), Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS)
  • Nicola Barclay (NB), Homes for Scotland
  • Ron Fraser (RF), Construction Scotland
  • Colin Proctor (CP), Scottish Futures Trust
  • Mike Foy (MF), Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
  • Stephen Good (SGo),Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC)
  • Calum Lindsay (CL), COSLA
  • Gordon Nelson (GN), Federation of Master Builders (FMB)
  • Graham Martin (GM), Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)
  • Robert Jopling (RJ), Certification Scheme Providers
  • Craig Ross (CR), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • Stephen Garvin (SGa), Scottish Government
  • Linda Stewart (LS), Scottish Government
  • Alan Rodden (AR), Scottish Government
  • Thomson Dyer (TD), Scottish Government
  • Sam Hart (SH), Scottish Government
  • Colette Templeton , Scottish Government

Items and actions

1. Welcome and Apologies

The Chair welcomed everyone to the 4th meeting.  Calum Lindsay attended in place of Robert Nicol. Colin Proctor and Craig Ross will attend future meetings to represent Scottish Futures Trust and RICS respectively. Robert Jopling represented the Certification Scheme Providers.

2. Note of Meeting and Action Points (Paper 19)

The note of the meeting held on 23 September was accepted with one change to clarify that Barry Berry, CEO Federation of Master Builders (FMB) participates on the Licencing UK Taskforce with FMB colleagues providing the secretariat support function. 
An update on the Action Points was provided.  GN provided an update on the UK Licencing Taskforce.

3. Progress Report - Workforce Strategy (Paper 20)

A presentation on the Workforce Strategy work stream was provided.  The aim of the strategy is to help local authorities build a service that is effective, able to respond to future challenges and is sustainable for the future.

The service faces a number of significant delivery challenges including difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff, lack of access to training, a loss of skills, an aging workforce with insufficient movement into the profession and an inability to succession plan effectively.  Work is ongoing with Scottish Government statisticians and economists to identify the impact on economic growth that comes from the building standards service.

The strategy contains commitments at both a national and local level.  It is recognised that local authorities have existing processes and procedures in place around recruitment, succession planning as well as learning and development. The commitments in the strategy are intended to focus efforts for building standards over the next three years to strengthen capacity and capability of the service and to create a clearly defined profession.  The strategy has been presented to SOLACE who are supportive of the work being taken forward recognising the issues being faced within building standards.

Working with Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS) the building standards profession roles and titles are being reviewed to develop a professional framework.  BSD have been exploring with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) the potential for promotion of careers in building standards as well as examining the potential for future education courses to support the profession.  The meeting were informed that a bid to SDS for funding to support graduate apprentice courses had not been successful due to available funding being cut across the sector.  DA advised that LABSS were very disappoint that funding had not been made available. They had spent considerable time developing the potential for graduate apprentice courses with Edinburgh Napier and Glasgow Caledonian Universities and around 19 members of staff had expressed interest. There is an option to send staff to building standards courses in England and this is now has to be considered.

The meeting discussed the level of building warrant fees retained within the service.  It was recognised that the re-investment of BW fees varied across Scotland with a number of local authorities using income to support other council services. It was agreed that other Future Board work streams need to be used to support education and training as it is essential that there is a trained and competent workforce. The meeting also discussed the need for future planning and identification of large construction projects to ensure that there were sufficiently trained and skilled building standards staff to support the work.  Where there is a lack of trained staff, there is potential for this to impact on economic growth.

The Board agreed that further action and discussion with SDS is required to raise the profile of building standards and to identify if there are any steps that can be taken to ensure future funding is available.  A meeting with SDS would be arranged.

4. Highlight Report - Certification, Digital, Delivery Model, Verification and Technical (Paper 21)

Certification Strategy

RAG Status: Amber.  Detail on the Certification Strategy was provided.  The process for re-appointment of the Certification Scheme providers is due to be completed by 31 March 2020 with 2 of the expected 6 applications received.  Research into a certification scheme for fire safety is underway with the focus on demand for a service and the capability of industry to deliver.  A stakeholder event to support the research will be held early 2020.  The strategy for certification is being developed for March 2020.  RJ advised that Scheme Providers had not been advised of a final submission date for applications and the majority were working to the March 2020 deadline.  CT advised that the intention was that the re-appointment process would be completed by the March date.  An update would be given to the certification team who will be in touch to clarify timescales.

Digital Strategy

RAG Status: Green.  The scoping study exploring developments and improvements for the building standards system has been completed.  Proposals have been made on the need to identify best practice and how better to use existing technologies.  Working with Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) digital improvements for a future eDevelopment national platform will be progressed.  A digital transformation workshop will be held in February 2020 with an update and way forward document being prepared for March 2020.

Delivery Model

RAG Status: Green.  Research has been commissioned to undertake a review of the current delivery model for verification services in Scotland.  The work will identify options for improvements to ensure the service is fit for the future.  An options paper and forward look will be prepared for March 2020.

Verification Standard

RAG Status: Green.  The Operating and Performance frameworks will be reviewed in 2020.  Working with Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling a focus group has been formed to share experience and feedback on their improvement journeys.  The group will be extended in January 2020.  In addition, during January, the piloting of a continuous improvement self-assessment tool will be undertaken and the development of Improvement logs will be introduced to capture best practice case studies.  
The 2020 round of local authority appointments has been completed using revised criteria based on the KPOs.

Technical Strategy

RAG Status: Green.  A questionnaire seeking feedback on accessibility, clarity and usability of the Technical Handbooks and published guidance is ongoing.  Responses will be analysed to identify common trends and themes and a decision on the need for further research will be taken early 2020.
An update and way forward document including consideration of the potential for digital options will be prepared for March 2020.

5. Progress Report – Compliance Plan (Paper 22)

A presentation on the work being taken forward to support the Compliance Plan Approach work stream was provided.  The work stream will develop an approach for ensuring compliance with the building regulations for complex buildings and high value public buildings.  The aim is however, to provide an approach that is scalable so that it can be applied to smaller and less complex building projects where compliance is still necessary.
Collaborative working on the pilot sites with SFT is on-going with additional projects in Stirling and West Lothian identified.  Stakeholder workshops with LABSS and Designers have taken place as well as a meeting with the Health and Safety Executive.  A workshop with Contractors was scheduled but was postponed to 2020 due to lack of uptake.  RF was asked to help with raising the profile of the event.
The team provided an update on their visit to Ireland to discuss the introduction of their new building standards system.  The issue of Indemnity Insurance was raised and the team advised that there were no issues in Ireland in relation to securing cover. To support the work stream a research project has been commissioned to identify changes following the reforms in the Irish system and the effect, if any, these have had on the achievement of compliance.  Research has also been commissioned on compliance in High-Hazard Industries with a focus on understanding how the complex nature of compliance is achieved across a range of alternative sectors. 
The meeting then split into two groups to allow more detailed discussion on the questions raised in the progress paper.  A summary of discussion is provided as a separate document.

6. AOB

A webpage for the Futures Board has been created providing background on its formation as well as membership.  The Board expressed no objections to the notes of meetings being added.
It was agreed that meetings will be held in March 2020, June, October and February 2021.  The next meeting will take place on Monday 9 March at the offices of Homes for Scotland, 5 New Mart Place, Edinburgh, EH14 1RW.

Action Points

  1. Meeting to be arranged with Skills Development Scotland to discuss funding mechanisms to support building standards graduate courses.
  2. Update to be provided to the Certification team on the re-appointment process deadline.
  3. Liaison with RF prior to engagement event with Construction industry on compliance plan.
  4. Provide a list of all research commissioned to support the Futures Board work streams.
  5. Update the Futures Board webpage.
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