Building Standards Futures Board minutes: February 2021

Minutes from the seventh meeting of the Building Standards Futures Board, held on 2 February 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Aubrey Fawcett (Chair), SOLACE
  • Dave Aitken (DA), LABSS
  • Nicola Barclay (NB), Homes for Scotland
  • Ron Fraser (RF), Construction Scotland
  • Mike Foy (MF), CIOB
  • Gordon Nelson (GN), FMB
  • Graham Martin (GM), RIAS
  • Stephen Garvin (SGa), Scottish Government
  • Colette Templeton (CT), Scottish Government
  • Neil Mitchell (NM), Scottish Government
  • Thomson Dyer (TD), Scottish Government
  • Linda Stewart (LS), Scottish Government
  • Steven Scott (SS), Scottish Government
  • Anne Marie Hughes (AMH), Scottish Government
  • Gillian McCabe (GMc), Scottish Government

Items and actions

1. Welcome and Apologies

The Chair welcomed everyone to the 8th meeting. Apologies were received from Colin Proctor Scottish Futures Trust, Craig Ross, RICS, Stephen Good, Construction Scotland Innovation Centre and Robert Nicoll, COSLA.

2. Note of Meeting and Action Points

Paper 33 (02/02/21)

The note of the minute from 6 October 2020 was accepted without amendment.  Progress and updates on the action points detailed within Paper 33, were noted.

3. COVID-19: Building Standards Response and Impact on programme


Building Standards - update

SGa advised that a debate on cladding and related matters had taken place in Westminster in relation to the Building Safety Bill.  It was noted that the MP for Glasgow East had referenced the work of the Futures Board, and also the holistic approach to safety which was being followed in Scotland.

The Building Standards Resilience Group set up in April 2020 in response to the issues raised by COVID, continues to meet, albeit on a monthly basis with slightly amended ‘Terms of Reference’ which have been approved by the Minister for Housing and Local Government.  Guidance previously issued through the Group is currently being reviewed or extended. 

The Liaison Group established to monitor issues in relation to the establishment of temporary healthcare building in response to COVID, continues to meet on a monthly basis, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Working Groups on the Fire Safety Review and Mortgages and Cladding have been established and will report back to the Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety in due course.  A Scottish Advice Note: Determining the Fire Risk posed by External Wall Systems in Existing Multi-Storey Residential Buildings is being finalised for publication.  A review of energy standards is also underway, this will be completed by October 2021. 

SGa advised that he had been invited to attend meetings of the USA’s International Code Council, which he had accepted.

SGa provided an update on staffing within building standards, noting that the complement will increase by two in March with further technical staff being sought through the recruitment process.  Posts had also been filled through internal staff moves.  NB noted the increase within the Building Standards budget announced by the Finance Minister, and asked for detail on the proposed expenditure.  SGa, noted that the budget had been increased to reflect the increase in staff and also for legacy fire safety issues.  Further detail would be made available to Board members, when available.  It was agreed that expenditure could be tracked and made available to the Board.

The Chair recognised that the Futures Board had no direct focus on the issues arising on building safety however it was important that the work being progressed through the work streams were pushed forward.  SGa agreed, advising that the Communities and Local Government Committee had written to the Minister in December for an update on work undertaken as part of the ‘Cole Report’.  A response was provided in January and a copy of the letter will be circulated to members on publication.

The Board expressed concern in relation to the mortgage issues where cladding is present, the development of guidance by RICS on use of the EW1 form, insurance limitations for construction professional and media attention.

Remote Verification Inspection (RVI)

NM explained that the use of RVI was developed to support work practices during the COVID pandemic.  To support the use of RVI the LABSS Digital Transformation Group had recently undertaken a second survey and initial results have been shared with BSD  A full analysis of the responses will be available by late February.  Early results show that a significant percentage of verifiers are using RVI however there are concerns and a need for additional guidance to be provided.  Where RVI is not being used then BSD are following this up with verifiers to identify if there are barriers to its use and offering financial assistance through the Futures Board.  A larger RVI group is being established with verifiers to be involved in pilot projects and to assist with the development of guidance. 

Construction Leadership Forum (CLF) and Transformation Sub Group - Update

RF reported that the CLF continued to meet monthly under the chairmanship of Mr Stewart, Minister for Housing and Local Government.  The Health and Safety guidance had been recognised as being of a high standard, the key message for the construction industry was not to be complacent.  Revisions to the current guidance were in train and would be published in due course.

Concerns were raised in relation to current procurement legislation/guidance and impact on quality of the build.  The CLF want to promote ideas of how quality can be improved and develop a quality charter.  Group members acknowledged that the work being taken forward through the FB Digital Agenda and Compliance Plan workstreams will help to improve the quality of both design and construction.

4. Progress Report

Certification Strategy - Paper 34 (02/02/21)

AH reported that the ‘Certification Resilience Group’ continues to meet on a monthly basis.  Although the initial focus of the Group had been on COVID related certification issues, the opportunity had been taken to highlight and promote certification services. This has been undertaken by Scheme Providers through the provision of Webinars and online training leading to an increase in certifier numbers and in certificates issued.  Building on this the group has been used to create the newly formed Certification Working Group which will provide support on the development of a certification strategy.  The Group is being chaired by Colin Campbell, Scottish Futures Trust with the first meeting on 4 February, with the intention to have two further meetings.  A draft certification strategy will be prepared for consideration by the FB at its June meeting.  AMH emphasised that key aspects of the strategy could fall into other FB workstreams citing both the Digital and Compliance Plan.  Volunteers to join the WG were invited from the Board to represent house builders.  NB suggested that Homes for Scotland may be in a position to help with a volunteer.

AMH reported that consideration of the potential to expand current schemes as well as  considering new schemes had been undertaken.  SGa suggested that as part of the proposed communication plan, the development of a certification guidance leaflet should be considered.  Noting that the BSD Customer Journey document provides customers with detail on the use of certification.

5. Work Stream Highlight Report 

Update: Paper 35 (02/02/21)

NM provided the following updates on the Future Board Work Streams:

Workforce Strategy

Sitting at ‘green’ RAG rating excellent progress has been made with  the strategy at an on-line event in October 2020.  Research has been commissioned to consider the support and benefits of Chartered Membership.  The chair noted the progress and asked that consideration be given to the need to update SOLACE.  

Digital Strategy

The Group were invited to note the change from ‘amber’ to ‘red’ in the RAG rating.  Due to the movement of a staff member to support COVID-19 work elsewhere in the SG progress has been limited.  A new digital team leader will join the team in March and the intention is to push forward with this work stream.  Work has continued to support the RVI liaison group and LABSS Digital Transformation Group.  Work is also ongoing to support RVI through a project with CSIC, identification of verifiers to support RVI activities and formation of a RVI Support Group, continued support to the changes on the Development portal and Certification Register.  In acknowledging the lack of resource, AF stressed that this work stream should be progressed as soon as possible.

Verification Standard

Ragged at ‘green’ the work stream was progressing well.  Work was being undertaken in two stages. Phase 1 is looking at strengthening and developing the  current delivery model.  This will involve a review of the Operating and Performance Frameworks work which is being taken forward by the Review Group.  The Group will also provide feedback on the draft self-assessment tool for verifiers and the revised customer satisfaction survey which is currently being reviewed by an external researcher. Phase 2 will examine what is needed to support future changes to the Delivery Model.

Delivery Model

The RAG status for the work stream is ‘amber’.  This is a due to the slow progress  because of staff resources.   A post to support the work stream is due to close on 8 February. NM advised that research was undertaken last year on the Delivery Model which provides a  base for the development of the work stream.  Research has recently been commissioned to look at how verifiers share services to support the verification service.  Further research will look at the role of Local Authority Building Standards Scotland in supporting the building standards service.  A Working Group is being established with the aim of having the first meeting in March.  The Group will consider the research as well as look at the options presented in the LABSS Delivery Model option paper.

The aim of the work stream was not to create a new building standards system but to strengthen the existing system.  As well as ensuring the system is fit for the future there will also be the need to consider the fee structures so ensure the system is appropriately funded.

The meeting discussed the potential for change recognising that from the work undertaken to date there appears no appetite for a national building standards system but more of a consensus around strengthening the current delivery model.  The support provided at a regional consortia level reflects service requirements as well as the wider sharing of building standards expertise and this potentially could be built upon.  There is a need to push forward on this work stream to provide certainty to verifiers.  The Board recognised that there are a number of national initiatives including the Climate Change Agenda which would be better achieved through close working.

The Board were asked for volunteers for the working group.

Technical Strategy

The RAG status for the work stream is ‘red’.  This reflects the lack of staff resource available.  A full time member of staff is  now in place to support this work steam and while  the Compliance Plan has been the key priority work will be undertaken on this work stream in the coming months.  Work has begun to support ‘Methods of Modern Construction’.  A working group is being set up to develop guidance for verifiers and certifiers this work will be completed for October 2021.

6.  Progress Report

Compliance Plan Approach – Paper 36 (02/02/21)

TD introduced Paper 36 reiterating Recommendation 19 from the Compliance and Enforcement Review Panel that ‘the system is not broken but needs to be strengthened and re-shaped’.  To achieve this there is a need to identify how the system was intended to operate.  To support the ‘Compliance Plan Approach’ a Working Group has been set up and is being chaired by Gordon Nelson.  The BSD team have also recently met Professor John Cole to discuss the work being taken forward.  At the meeting he reiterated his belief that the system required independent professional oversight. Imperative for all high value/complex projects recognising the potential for a system that is scalable.  Prof Cole is attending the next meeting of the Group on 10 February.  The Group has constituted three sub- groups to considering ‘Enforcement and Compliance’, ‘Compliance Plan Manager Role’ and ‘Quality of Building Warrant Applications’.  All groups have met at least once, and are developing well.  TD reported on the meetings and provided an update. Recommendations from the Working Group will would be fed back to the Futures Board in due course.

Contact has also been made with colleagues in MHCLG taking forward the Building Safety Bill and the Competency Steering Group.  Of particular interest is the work on Site Supervisors.  Discussions have also taken place with colleagues in the SG Energy Efficiency team who have developed a Standards and retro-fit co-ordinator role.  The Groups are willing to share learning going forward.  

TD highlighted the work being taken forward in the coming months with plans to have proposals ready for consultation in Summer 2021.  An update will be provided at the next meeting.

GM expressed the concerns of RIAS with regard to the work undertaken by MHCLG, specifically failure to reflect the role of the architect.  He said that a paper had been prepared and would be presented to the Compliance Working Group and Futures Board for consideration.

The Chair and RJ noted that RICS and SER were not represented on the Compliance Working Group.  It was agreed that invites would be extended to them.

7. AOB

Date of meetings 2021:

  • Meeting 9: 8 June (10am – 1pm)
  • Meeting 10: 4 October (1.30pm - 4.30pm)

Action Points


  • expenditure on Futures Board budget to be provided to members
  • information on BSD’s 2021 – 22 budget allocation to be circulated to the members
  • FB monitoring paper to be collated and circulated
  • certification team to contact Homes for Scotland to secure member for the Working Group
  • response to the CLG group on action taken following Cole Report to be circulated to the FB on publication
  • timing of update to SOLACE on the Workforce strategy to be considered
  • members were invited to identify members for the Delivery Model Working Group
  • invitation to be issued to RICS and SER to join the Compliance Plan Working Group
  • RIAS to submit paper on Compliance Plan - to be circulated on receipt.
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