Building Standards Futures Board minutes: February 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 17 February 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Craig Hatton (Chair), SOLACE
  • Dave Aitken (DA), LABSS
  • Ron Fraser (RF), Construction Scotland
  • Mike Foy (MF), CIOB
  • Gordon Nelson (GN), FMB
  • Colin Proctor (CP), Scottish Futures Trust
  • Robert Jopling (RJ), SER
  • Euan Ryan (ER), RICS
  • Steve Fawcett (SF), Homes for Scotland
  • Stephen Good (SG), CSIC
  • Stephen Garvin (SGa), Scottish Government
  • Colette Templeton (CT), Scottish Government
  • Neil Mitchell (NM), Scottish Government
  • Linda Stewart (LS), Scottish Government
  • Cameron Murdoch (CM), Scottish Government
  • Frank Doherty (FD), Scottish Government
  • Fiona Sinclair (FS), Scottish Government
  • Steven Scott (SS), Scottish Government


  • Robert Nicol, COSLA
  • Graham Martin,  RIAS     

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

The Chair welcomed everyone to the 11th meeting and thanked everyone for their work so far. The Chair noted apologies from Graham Martin and Robert Nicol and advised that the next meeting will now be held on 14 June to allow for the additional public holiday for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on 2 June. The Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenant’s Rights, Patrick Harvie, will join the meeting on 14 June.

Note of meeting on 04 October 2021 and action points paper 50 (17/02/2022)

The Chair and Board agreed the note of the previous meeting on 4 October 2021 and noted the action points from the previous meeting.

MF commented on action point two by advising the Board that the PII market in England wasn’t showing signs of softening. MF agreed to provide further detail to support the work BSD are taking forward under the Compliance Plan work stream.

COVID-19: building standards update

SGa provided an updated on support and guidance BSD are providing through the pandemic.

There are a number of guidance letters issued by BSD in the last two years to support work/business during the pandemic which are currently still live. Following discussions with the Resilience Group it is expected that those remaining letters and guidance documents will be removed by September 2022 as long as there is no worsening of the COVID-19 position.

The following updates on wider BSD were provided:

The consultations on Building Standards (Fire Safety) – a consultation on external wall systems and Scottish Building Regulations: Proposed changes to Energy Standards and associated topics, including Ventilation, Overheating and Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure have now closed and analysis has been completed.

Advice on the proposed changes to Section two Fire Safety has been provided to Ministers following the final review panel meeting. A meeting with officials and Ministers will take place in the next couple of weeks. Work is still ongoing to refine the proposed changes to Section six Energy Standards. Proposals will go forward to Ministers before the end of March. The intention is to bring changes in both sections into force this year.

SGa advised that as of the 1 of February the Scottish Government moved to a hybrid working approach. However, the need to continue with social distancing means that this limits the number of staff in the office. The space in DH for BSD has also changed with some of the ground floor now being used as a local hub for SG staff. Consideration will need to be given to where Futures Board meetings are held once we are able to return to in-person meetings.

Progress report on Domestic Building Works (Consumer Protection) Bill (licensing of contractors)

GN advised that the Private Member’s Bill at Westminster brought forward by Mark Garnier, Conservative MP, had its second reading on 19 November 2021. The bill has been withdrawn due to a lack of support however there has been an offer from the Minister, Paul Scully to discuss further. It is hoped that with the improving position after COVID-19 there will be support towards the end of 2022 to take this work forward and a further update will be provided at that time. 

Construction Leadership Forum and Transformation Sub Group – update

RF advised that the Construction Leadership Forum met in January. Meetings are now bi-monthly which reflects the changing circumstances within industry and the increase in workload which has picked up after the pandemic. The meeting considered the effect of the National Planning Framework four and Net Zero Carbon. The CLF continues to be a strong link between industry and the Scottish Government and the Accord will be the focus of the next meeting.

The meeting heard that there was difficulty in engaging members of the Transformation Sub Group due to increasing workloads although work is continuing. The focus is on the quality improvement collaborative – with the aim of trying to launch a series of tools to support industry. The Sub Group is proposing the introduction of a quality charter with proposals on how this will be fine-tuned moving forward. A new Sub Group has been established on Net Zero Carbon and its aim is to help people understand what achieving Net Zero Carbon actually means in practice. The group will bring as many of the key players together to map the current landscape, identifying relevant legislation and existing strategies. This will enable the group to highlight the gaps, identifying where no one is focusing on a critical area or where people may all be working on the same thing which isn’t needed. Work will also be taken forward to actively engage in the digitising of the sector as well as helping SMEs. A draft strategy has been developed and this will be shared with SMEs.

Value of consultancy and MMC

CP provided an update on the work with professional bodies focusing on the early stage of development projects looking at what happens when a project is on site and what happens after. The project will also consider the structure of appointments as well as fee structures looking at the management of demand and approaches.

Work stream update – February 2022: paper 51 (17/02/2022)

NM presented Paper 51 which provided a summary of the work streams not on today’s agenda.

Compliance plan approach

The Compliance and Enforcement consultation closed last week with 91 responses. NM advised that BSD had planned for around 100 responses and thanked all the board members for promoting the consultation within their organisations and wider. Initial impressions from the responses are that the CPM proposal and proposed high risk buildings definitions had received good support with around 80% of responses supporting the CPM role. Responses were mixed on the question posed on low rise housing and whether they should be included in a strengthen CP process. Support was also coming through for increasing fines to support enforcement. A contactor has been appointed to analyse the responses and the final report is expected to be available by the end of March 2022.

NM provided an update on how the compliance plan is being tested on a new school building project in Fife. Working with Scottish Futures Trust the team are developing compliance plan documentation. A meeting with Fife Council will take place next week to look at progress and next steps which will include discussions on case management and performance systems. It is expected that, due to the length of projects, the trialling processes will need to be undertaken on multiple building projects.

The Chair advised that North Ayrshire has large projects which could be useful for BSD to use for trials.

The introduction of the compliance plan will impact on the role of the verifier and the team will bring forward research that will investigate changes to workload and compliance capacity within the system. This research will be used by BSD to inform decisions on implementation of the changes to ensure compliance can be strengthened on all projects, especially higher risk buildings.

Discussions with the insurance industry are ongoing to explore the need and requirements for the CPM role to have appropriate PII. This will continue in the coming months. Work is now also underway, being led by the BSD Practice Unit, to support the development of an Enforcement Handbook.

It is recognised that changes being brought forward by the Futures Board across all the work streams will require the development of a medium to long term change management approach/programme. This work will be developed by the Unit over the next year. 

Workforce Strategy

The Board were informed that the Workforce Strategy was launched in October 2021. Work is being taken forward by the Practice Unit and is progressing well. The strategy is based around four key themes of a sustainable workforce, a skilled workforce, a professional framework and a profession for everyone. To support these an Ambassadors Network has been setup to promote the profession through the development of outreach activities with schools, colleges and universities. Work is also ongoing to set up training for the Modern Apprentice schemes with 23 staff members identified to begin the process later in the year. 

The plans are to support this work with the establishment of an Education Hub within the BSD Pilot Hub which will provide additional capacity to support this work.

Certification Strategy

Scheme providers were appointed by SG Ministers in October 2020, and a new operating framework was introduced at that time. The board agreed and approved the Strategy in June 2021.

Scheme Providers are currently discussing the development of a new logo and branding and it is hoped that this will be completed within the next couple months. NM advised that 121 discussions with each of the scheme providers had been completed as part of the engagement process. Conversations with organisations interested in potential new schemes continue, but due to commercial sensitivity no further details can be provided at this stage.

Research commissioned to look at the value of certification will be used by the team to help promote and make certification more visible highlighting the value of the service. GN took the opportunity to raise a concern around a potential issue with some of the questions asked by the contractor which appeared to confuse the certification position in Scotland to how it is operated in England. NM undertook to get this checked to ensure there were no issues arising.

Verification Standard

The 2021 Customer satisfaction survey has been completed and results provided to verifiers. A new customer survey that will provide data in real time was being developed and is expected to be operational by summer 2022. NM advised that further development of this work stream is dependent on the Verification Delivery Model work stream.

Technical Strategy

The work stream focuses on the provision of technical guidance. An internal technical authors group has been setup to review the process for making changes to the guidance and a summary of the process was provided for the Board under today’s Actions Paper. A working group considering Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) was set up last year and BSD are working with a contractor to prepare guidance for verifiers and certifiers. This guidance should be finalised before the end of March.

Digital validation of building warrant applications is an area for future consideration as the demand to enhance the digital aspect of building standards grows. Further discussion on digital will be provided later in the meeting.

RJ raised a concern in relation to the establishment of a fire hub and the effect that this may have on scheme providers who may want to enter the market. NM advised that how the provision of central support in relation to fire expertise will be provided has still to be developed however, the team will make sure there will be no conflict with certification services.

Verification Delivery Model - progress update and strategy (paper 52)

CM provided a verbal update on the work being taken forward to deliver the Delivery Model work stream.

The Review Panel on Compliance and Enforcement stated that the Building Standards system in Scotland was not broken but did need some strengthening and reshaping. 

The Delivery Model Working Group (DMWG) set up to support the work stream has considered the LABBS Options Appraisal on potential delivery options. The DMWG has agreed that the best option appeared to be a Central Hub with regional strengthening.

This proposal has been supported by SOLACE, COSLA and the LABSS membership.

BSD are working closely with Fife Council who have agreed to host the Hub pilot for the 18 month period. The Hub will be managed by two Directors and the adverts for these posts will be published on 21 February. A provisional interview date of 22 March has been identified with the aim of having appointments confirmed by the end of March 2022. These posts will be supported by a part time admin/tech staff member who is being provided from with the building standards team at Fife council.

To support the development of the pilot BSD and LABSS have been working closely. The pilot Scope of Work document and work stream Communication Strategy have been agreed with further work on the Risk Register being taken forward.

CM reported on the research being undertaken by Optimal Economics to review the LABSS Options Appraisal to ensure the proposal for a central hub aligns with the direction of the working group. This work will also include a review of the local authority building standards consortia groupings. Research will shortly be commissioned on the Building Standards fee income. The project will review the impact on the building standards system following the last change to building warrant fees in 2017 as well as identifying funding mechanisms that could be used to ensure there are sufficient resources in the system to support verifiers, and any future changes to the building standards service.

The meeting discussed the linkages of the pilot hub to the strategy document and CP underlined the need to make sure the work of the pilot was reflected. The Strategy document is a high level document for delivery of the work stream with more detailed plans for the pilot hub in place.  

The need for a centralised source for fire engineering was discussed and NM reported that BSD had undertaken research to identify where local authorities buy in specialised advice. Local Authorities are using external third parties to verify complex fire engineering proposals which in most cases cost the equivalent of the building warrant fee.

Strategy document: paper 52 (17/02/2022)

The Strategy sets out the purpose and aim and how the work stream will be delivered.

CM took the meeting through the Strategy setting out the scope and objectives, factors and dependencies and stakeholder groups. 

The timeline for the work has been set out and that this will be kept under review in order to reflect dates and new deadlines. Work will also be undertaken to review the work of the hub pilot as well as bringing forward proposals for the permanent Hub. 

The Board asked what representation from fire engineer professions was on the Working Group. The Board were advised that there isn’t a specific named person on the Working Group to represent the fire profession because fire is only one of the services being considered. Advice will also be needed to support structure, energy etc. and it was agreed that additional support will be added to the group as and when required. 

SGa suggested that the hub pilot would benefit from support on identifying governance and assurance measures. Progress on the pilot will be reported to the Board and it is expected that the hub Directors will attend future meetings.

The Strategy will be shared with the Minister. The Chair and Board agreed the sign off of the Strategy.

Digital strategy - progress update


FD provided a verbal update on the work of the Digital Transformation work stream. 

Digital Planning Programme

Building Standards have now been accepted as part of the Programme to replace the eDevelopment portal which will be delivered over the next five years. There are five missions in the programme that will be taken forward over the next 12 months. The data mission will concentrate on access to future services, and consideration will be given to branding. Work is being taken to develop new payments engines, a smart application and cloud services where all of the systems will sit. The meeting discussed the potential for a dedicated building standards app to access these services.

Development work (Dev J) on the existing eDevelopment portal is being completed and the maximum single file upload size will be increased to 10Mb. This will be applied on 21 February.

Digital transformation work stream

Work on the BSD digital work stream is being taken forward on a number of fronts. Research on RVI is progressing and was delayed slightly because of the Omnicom variant. Once the research has been concluded dissemination on RVI and support to verifiers is planned. Work is also being taken forward to investigate the potential to identify a building standards ‘problem’ that could be used as a study to be resolved through the CIVTech Challenge platform. Research to review the Data Standards across local authority verifiers is ongoing and due to be report in the coming weeks.

The work stream is also taking forward a number of projects in partnership with Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) and the seven work packages of this were discussed. The first three packages are mobile applications. Mobile apps will look to deliver better access to guidance, a single platform for interaction between users and verifiers, and build towards mobile integration with the Smart Applications aspect of the Digital Planning programme. Work will be undertaken to investigate the potential for a compliance register for high risk buildings and a new National Statutory register that will replace or enhance statutory registers while supporting government digital and data strategies.

The potential for integrating data sets with the Smart Applications project of the Digital Planning Programme will be investigated. Map based data sets, competency and product registers as well as certification offer clear potentials for automation. The largest proportion of the investment will be used to support discovery on how simple digital tools can make the process of showing compliance simpler and more effective for SME’s.

Engagement with industry update – verbal 

FD advised the Board that engagement across stakeholders was strong however there were potential gaps within some system users/industry/academia and the views of the members were sought on how this could be improved.

GN expressed the view that the current level of engagement seemed right and that he was happy to be involved going forward. A project previously identified between a software vendor and FMB member will be picked up through one of the CSIC work packages.

SGa welcomed the inclusion of building standards into the scope of the digital planning programme. SGa sits on the programme board for this work and he asked the Futures Board for a view on whether the FB and LABSS should be represented on the Planning programme board. The Board were asked to consider so that it could be picked up after the meeting.


RJ advised the Board that this was his last meeting as he is stepping down at his position with SER at the end of April. A new representative for the scheme providers will be sought and notified to the Board.

The Chair and SGa thanked RJ for his support to the work of the Futures Board and to the wider certification services. 

Date of 2022 meetings:

  • meeting 12 to 14 June 2022 – Minister attending

  • meeting 13 to 20 October 2022

Action points

  • MF to provide further detail, as and when applicable on the PII position in England

  • BSD (Compliance work stream) to contact North Ayrshire Council to identify building projects which could be used to support work on compliance

  • Certification – Team to review research on the value of certification to ensure no confusion on contractors understanding of the position in Scotland with that in England

  • BSD (Delivery Model work stream) to identify the requirements on governance and assurance to support the hub pilot

  • BSD (Digital work stream) to contact members to discuss engagement with industry

BSD (Digital work stream) to contact members for guidance on representation on the Digital Planning Programme.

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