Building Standards Futures Board minutes: October 2022
- Local Government and Housing Directorate
- Part of
- Building, planning and design
Minutes from the Building Standards Futures Board.
Attendees and apologies
- Craig Hatton (CH) Chair, Chief Executive of North Ayrshire Council
- James Whiteford (JW), Delivery Model Hub Director, Fife Council
- Alan McAulay (AMc), Delivery Model Hub Director, Fife Council
- Steve Fawcett (SF), Homes for Scotland
- Ewan Ryan (ER), RICS
- Ron Fraser (RF), Construction Scotland (CS)
- Robert Nicol (RN), COSLA
- Colin Proctor (CP), Scottish Futures Trust (SFT)
- Hew Edgar (HE), CIOB
- Stephen Good (SG), Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST)
- Robert Storey (RS), SER
- Neil Mitchell (NM), Scottish Government
- Stephen Garvin (SGa), Scottish Government
- Colette Templeton (CT), Scottish Government
- Cameron Murdoch (CM), Scottish Government
- Ken Craig (KC), Scottish Government
- Fiona Sinclair (FS), Scottish Government
- Sarah Waugh (SW), Scottish Government
- Gordon Nelson (GN), FMB
- Mark Lawler (ML), SER
- Frank Doherty (FD), Scottish Government
- Dave Aitken (DA), LABSS
- Graham Martin (GM), RIAS
Items and actions
Welcome and apologies
The Chair welcomed everyone to the first hybrid meeting and noted apologies.
Note of meeting on 15 June 2022 and action points paper 59 (20 October 2022)
The note of the previous meeting was approved by the Board.
Action points paper 59:
- action point 1: 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” – updated and complete
- action point 2: SG advised that BE-ST have provided low carbon training which could be extended for verifiers to attend – complete, update provided within paper 59
- action point 3: the Futures Board agenda to include a standing update from the Verification Delivery Model work stream to provide progress on the Hub. – on the agenda to discuss later in the meeting
- action point 4: BSD to meet John Paul Breslin LABSS Chair to provide an update across all work streams – complete and added to the agenda
- action point 5: Digital Transformation – to support the work stream access to SME’s through Members or representatives were requested – LABSS, FMB, SFT and Scheme Providers have been involved in assisting with recommending people with appropriate SME. BSD are currently working with BE-ST
- action point 6: Futures Board Risk Register to become a standing item on the agenda – completed and added to the agenda
Construction Leadership Forum and Transformation Sub Group - update
CP advised the Board that an important milestone has been reached on the collaborative journey to look at areas for improvement. SFT and CS have been working on the development of the Construction Accord which was shared via email to the Group in advance of the meeting. The Accord looks at change and focuses on issues at a national level including; looking at skills/current workforce, supply chains and improvements to be made, as well as getting industry ready and planning ahead.
The document is important for the public sector to move forward but there needs to be change on all sides.
CP also advised that there are aspects of business that needs to be done differently such as looking at the age profile within the sector. There are fast growing trends and opportunities with new ways of working which are being introduced, for example digitalisation and net zero standards. It was agreed that work needs to be undertaken closely with Scottish Government and Local Authorities (LA) to drive this forward.
The Accord sets out 10 priority areas and will be delivered over the next 3 years. A Transformation Board will be created and a leadership forum is in place. The Accord is a platform for change and its effectiveness will rely on collaborative working between industry (Construction/Design to Procurement and Government (as regulator).
The Construction Accord document should be viewed as the beginning of a process and not the end as it is setting out what the Scottish construction sector wants to do going forward. It is critical that the construction sector encourages people to take an interest in the Accord and promote collaboration, to focus on how it can deliver, and use all the tools and projects already in place. Real change will come from the actions of the various Working Groups.
The Board agreed that this is a good opportunity at a critical time and working with COSLA will be key to help create change and move industry forward.
SGa added that the quality initiative, which involves the Compliance Plan, is part of the Accord. There was general agreement that the publication of the Accord will be beneficial to promote the work of the Futures Board and Compliance Plan.
Work is being undertaken to increase diversity and bring more people into the construction sector through the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme. SGa suggested that a meeting with John Paul Breslin (Chair, LABSS) would be useful, to look at other options to increase diversity.
Action: Construction Scotland to arrange a meeting with John Paul Breslin to look at options on how to increase interest and diversity within the construction sector.
ER asked what are the timelines and next steps to support the publication of the Accord?
CP advised the short term timeline proposition is for a Working Group to be established over the next two months which will help to develop the transformation plan which will be brought together by the end of the next financial year, with the project then running for around 3 years.
Building Standards – update
SGa updated the Group that revised Fire Safety Standards came into place on 01 June 2022. No significant feedback has been received on the introduction of the standards.
Changes to energy standards will come into effect from 1 December 2022 (post meeting note – now deferred to 1 February 2023). Changes to the standards will result in a significant cut in carbon emissions for both new domestic and non-domestic properties. Further work is being undertaken with BE-ST to support the achievement of low energy standards in future years.
SGa advised that the new build heat standards is expected to come into force in April 2024. From this time any new buildings will not be allowed to use fossil fuels as the primary source of heating.
The COVID-19 guidance which was initially issued during the height of the pandemic lapsed on 30 September 2022. The Building Standards Resilience Liaison Group was set up during this period and the Group will continue into 2023 with revised terms of reference.
BSD’s recently published guidance on Modern Methods of Construction will be launched at the BE-ST Fest on 25 October 2022.
The Building Safety Act in England and Wales is introducing the New Homes Ombudsman. There will also be the creation of a new Building Advisory Committee, which will be run by the HSE (the new regulator) from next year. Work is ongoing in DLUHC in relation to safety issues in buildings and BSD will need to consider how to manage these items within the built environment going forward.
The Chair asked, in regards to insurance claims following changes to the energy standards if there is the potential for an increase in claims with the introduction of new technologies. SGa advised that meetings have taken place with the insurance industry to discuss renewable technologies and timber frame house building.
Verification Delivery Model work stream: paper 60 (20 October 2022)
CM provided an update to the Board giving background on the Delivery Model.
The Fire (Safety) and Compliance and Enforcement Review Panels, set up following the fire at Grenfell Tower and failings in the construction of Edinburgh School Buildings, identified that the Building Standards system in Scotland was not broken but would benefit from 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 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.
In late May 2022, two Hub Pilot Directors took up post and the Hub Pilot was formally launched by Patrick Harvie, Minister for ZCB, AT & TR, at the last Futures Board meeting on 15 June 2022. The BSD/LABSS Delivery Model Development Group (DMDG) and Fife Council currently meet every four weeks to discuss progress and any risks/issues around the Hub Pilot. A seven stage project plan has been established with each stage having its own stage brief and objectives.
BSD meet the Hub Directors on a 4 to 6 week basis. Proposals and a business plan for a permanent Hub are being developed. An interim update report will be available in December and will be used to commission an options appraisal for the permanent Hub. Proposals will be taken to the DMWG which currently meets every 3 months and is now Chaired by Frank McCafferty of the Wheatley Group.
Tom Barclay has been appointed as the Critical Friend, providing support to the Hub Directors but also providing an independent form of oversight on the progress and direction of the Hub Pilot.
A Learning and Development Manager post has been added to the Hub Pilot for a 12 month period. A preferred candidate has been identified and is due to take up post by the end of November 2022.
In 2017, the Minister agreed to increase building warrant fees on the basis that, any additional income will be used to support local authority building standards teams. Research is ongoing to review the building standards income and level of reinvestment in service delivery. A further project will be undertaken to provide detailed modelling around a new fees structure.
BSD are working closely with stakeholders and COSLA on the progress of the Hub Pilot. COSLA is supportive, at this stage, of the principal of the permanent Hub being hosted within a local authority.
A number of risks have been identified. Risks are reported to the DMDG and DMWG at every meeting. A number of actions to mitigate risks have been identified and contingency actions are in place. Any risks with a high scoring (15+) will also be brought to the Futures Board for discussion.
The Chair added that the current risks are more a result of impact rather than likelihood and as such need to be monitored.
CT advised that BSD continually review risks and will work to bring them to green in 2023.
SGa advised that funding will be challenging going forward. The Board will have a role in advising Ministers on the permanent Hub through input and support to the business case.
Local fee setting – paper 61 (20 October 2022)
NM presented paper 61 (20/10/2022).
The building standards system is designed to be self-financing with fees currently set by legislation with one increase (in 2017) since the Building (Scotland) Act came into force, in 2005.
Any changes to future fees will need to take account of ongoing work to strengthen the system through the work on the new Compliance Plan approach, the Delivery Model Hub and outcomes from all the other Futures Board work streams.
NM advised that COSLA have asked SG to consider local fee setting by individual local authorities including building warrant fees. Under current similar devolved fee setting legislation, the fees set are designed to solely cover the cost of the service delivery and no more. The Minister has agreed that this should be considered by the Board in conjunction with SG colleagues. A meeting has been arranged with COSLA officials on 14 November to discuss further.
The Board recognises that there are a small number of councils that don’t recover their verification costs due to remoteness factors. There was a discussion on whether or not a supplement should be provided in these cases. The Board discussed the implications of local fee setting and agreed that this was not a model that they supported. A National consistent fee structure is the preferred option.
RN advised that he can provide information to the Board around full cost recovery and the new Fiscal Framework. A meeting for discussion with BSD will be arranged.
SGa advised the Board that there is a need for it to take a position on this proposal that will then be communicated to the Minister.
NM reported that research on fees has highlighted questions relating to the 30% standard overhead allowed for in KPO5 and whether or not this was appropriate. Findings also show that the Grant Aided Expenditure (GAE) element provided by Scottish Government for the LA statutory Building Standards role is not always available to some LA Building Standards services. The Chair was surprised at this and suggested that it may be useful to engage with the Directors of Finance Group to better understand money in vs money out as there is a need to balance cost with value.
Delivery Model Hub – update
AMc provided background on the establishment of the Hub Pilot. Extensive stakeholder engagement is ongoing and includes COSLA, SOLACE, BSD, LABSS, Scottish Government, Fife Council and the Futures Board.
The Hub is promoting a partnership approach and are working closely with stakeholders to support improvements to the building standards system including participation in the Hubs of expertise (fire/structural) and type approval schemes to support strategic projects. Stakeholders have also agreed to collaborate on information papers and the dispute resolution process, where relevant and appropriate.
JW advised the Board about the work undertaken to identify a potential hosting model for a permanent Hub. Thirteen models were considered but following analysis, 10 were discounted as not suitable. Three models were subject to a scoring exercise and a preferred option has been identified. Further discussions will take place at the next DMWG before a preferred option is shared.
The structure of a permanent Hub is being developed with the DMWG. LABSS services such as STAS, information papers, dispute resolution processes and the Digital Transformation Group are now being taken forward from within the Hub Pilot.
An overview of the Project Plan and a breakdown of the 7 stages was provided. These are all ongoing at this time.
Stage 1: Business Case and Plan for a Permanent Building Standards Hub
Strategic governance for the Pilot Hub has been embedded and hosting and governance options for a permanent Hub are being concluded. Hub Pilot financial management and scrutiny is ongoing while extensive LA and stakeholder engagement is carried out.
Stage 2: Investigate establishing BSH – responsibilities; work sharing practices; national decisions
A process review is underway for STAS test cases. Information papers and dispute resolution will be subject to a stakeholder feedback review.
Stage 3: Operational Partnerships – Plan assessment
Current arrangements have been benchmarked and a Memorandum of Understanding has been created covering all aspects of partnership working and operational partnerships. The MOU is in a near final draft and cannot be completed until the outcomes from the post engagement survey are analysed.
Stage 4: Investigate establishing a Fire Engineering Hub
Relevant stakeholders have agreed to participate in a Fire Engineering Hub with potential test cases being considered. A working group is to be established to consider a review of how low/medium complexity solutions are verified.
Stage 5: Investigate establishing a Structural Engineering Hub
Arrangements for this have been benchmarked while the Hub is looking at additional partnerships. Agreement has been made to prepare a ‘competency matrix’ for verifiers and relevant stakeholders have agreed to participate.
Stage 6: Investigate establishing a Digital Hub
The Digital Hub has currently been embedded in the Hub Pilot. Strategic and operational delivery groups have been created to support the Digital Hub as well as ongoing partnership working with the Scottish Government Digital Transformation Programme.
Stage 7: Knowledge and Learning Hub
A Learning and Development Manager has been appointed and will take up the role at the end of November. The post will last for a period of 12 months. Work on the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and other Learning Management Systems (LMS) projects are underway.
The Directors advised that they will continue to provide updates to all relevant working groups, various LABSS meetings and to the Hub Pilot Critical Friend. It was agreed that there’s a high degree of scrutiny and oversight and overall engagement has been positive, supportive and constructive. The Directors also noted their thanks to Fife Council for their seamless introduction to the Organisation.
Workstream Update October 2022: Paper 62 (20 October 2022)
CT provided an update to the Board.
Current RAG status is green.
The 2022 workforce data collection exercise is now complete. The report will be agreed with LABSS in December and published online February 2023.
The new Modern Apprenticeship course started in September 2022 and has 13 participants. A Ministerial launch for the course is being planned with Fife and Inverness UHI for November this year.
L&D Manager – preferred candidate has been identified with the candidate expected to take up post November 2022.
The Board agreed that the Modern Apprenticeship programme should be encouraged to support the intake of younger people to a career in Building Standards as well as helping to support increased diversity. The uptake in year 1 was not as high as had been anticipated and the team are undertaking early engagement to ensure support for August 2023.
Action: BSD to provide the Chair with a list of authorities currently supporting Modern Apprenticeship positions for building standards. He will make contact with LAs currently not supporting the scheme.
Current RAG status is red.
There is currently no dedicated staff available to support this work stream and development work is on hold. When staff resources become available there are proposals to hold an in-person event for certifiers in 2023 to support promotion and recruitment of new certification schemes covering certification of design and certification of construction.
Current RAG status is green.
The 2020-2021 National Customer Satisfaction Survey report for Local Authority Building Standards was published in February 2022. A new customer survey data collection and questionnaire tool has been operational from April 2022. The Workstream will be further developed and considered as the work of the Delivery Model Workstream progresses.
Current RAG status is amber.
The Modern Methods of Construction (MMC): Guidance document has now been published. The document will be used by verifiers to support the checking of building warrants submitted using this construction method.
A review of the Building Standards Technical Handbooks on how the documents are authored and published are to be undertaken. This will be dependent on both staff and financial resources.
Compliance Plan Approach: Paper 63 (20 October 2022)
NM introduced paper 63 (20/10/22) and provided background and an update on the work being taken forward on this work stream.
The Compliance Plan Working Group (CPWG) was established at the end of 2020 as a short term working group to provide advice on the development of the strengthened building standards system, following the public consultation in late 2021. The Working Group have agreed to remain in place and continue to support this work stream, chaired by Gordon Nelson.
This is being supported through two research projects which will consider the impact of the introduction of a Compliance Plan process on the role of the Verifier and take forward the development of the roles and responsibilities of a Compliance Plan Manager. The projects are expected to report in spring 2023.
Responses to the consultation in 2021 provided mixed responses on the need for the application of a Compliance Plan Manager for low rise/high volume housing. Further work will be undertaken on this in the coming months.
Progress is being made on the development of an enforcement handbook to assist LAs with enforcement matters. Work will begin shortly on the development of a Compliance Plan Handbook.
NM advised that the development of the Compliance Plan and the role of the Compliance Plan Manager is being taken forward in partnership with Fife Council. The potential for an Early Adopters Scheme is being considered.
Interest from the NHS and other stakeholders has been received for participation in this scheme.
RF advised that real time feedback on a scheme of this type is invaluable and would be supported by Construction Scotland. It was agreed that there’s a need to find a balance between close working, getting meaningful feedback and identifying what meaningful feedback actually looks like.
Current risks to the work stream were discussed and highlighted to the Board.
Action: BSD to consider an early adopters scheme as a test and feedback opportunity.
Digital Transformation – Paper 64 (20 October 2022)
KC introduced paper 64 (20 October 2022).
The building standards CivTech 7 challenge has proceeded through the Exploration stage and a single challenge partner, Hypervine, have been appointed to develop a minimum viable product. This project is 2 weeks into the 15 week Accelerator stage and should be delivered by January 2023. The team are currently having weekly updates with the developers to assist with stakeholder engagements and introductions. A blog post providing an update will be published in November 2022.
The team are currently working with BE-ST on the development of mobile apps. This work has involved stakeholder engagement sessions before progressing to delivery.
On RVI the final report from Napier University has been received and will be used to support the development of National Guidance.
The team are also exploring the use of Near Me to support the use of secure and encrypted links.
Research on the Data Standards Framework will be used to improve data accuracy and comparability while providing a more streamlined system. A Building Standards Data Standards Framework for Change Group has been established and will meet November 2022.
Current risks to the work stream were discussed and highlighted to the Board.
Futures Board Risk Management – Paper 65 (20 October 2022)
CT presented the risk paper to the Board advising that the paper reports the risks and objectives in relation to delivery of the aims of the Futures Board.
Resources and staffing remain the main risk with vacancies within the Certification work stream. The Digital Team Leader secondment ends in March 2023 with currently no contingency in place.
BSD won’t know the new budget until February/March 2023 but have planned research and committed spend up to this point.
Date of 2023 meetings:
- 14 February 2023
- 09 May 2023
- 15 August 2023
- 14 November 2023
The Board agreed that meetings should take place as a hybrid format going forward.
- Construction Scotland to arrange a meeting with John Paul Breslin to look at options on how to increase interest and diversity within the construction sector
- BSD to provide the Chair with a list of authorities currently supporting Modern Apprenticeship positions for building standards. He will make contact with LAs currently not supporting the scheme
- BSD to consider an early adopters scheme as a test and feedback opportunity
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