5. Part 4 – Devolved Building Warrant Fees
Part 4 of the consultation asked respondents whether building warrant fees should be set nationally or locally. The fees are currently set nationally; however, expert research found that no specific factors would make introducing a devolved system inherently difficult.
Q4.1 Should building warrant fees be set at national or local level?
|% Not sure
|% No answer
|All respondents (n=)
|All respondents (%)
|Designer / Consultant
|Contractor / Developer
|Membership body / association
There was widespread consensus that building warrant fees should be set at a national level; 88% felt this should be the case, with 8% favouring the local level. Support for setting fees at a national level was clear across all types of respondents, with all organisations in favour except for a small number of contractors/developers. Four fifths (82%) of individuals also favoured this option.
National fees create consistent costs
The most common theme in responses to Q4.1, raised by just under half of respondents, was that building warrant fees should be set nationally to ensure consistent costs across the country and provide applicants with certainty about the costs they will face.
“I should pay the same fee regardless of my locality, as I'm expecting the same service regardless of where the project is. This is also going to be confusing for national clients.” – Individual
“Everyone has to comply with the same technical standards, so why would fees be higher in different areas” – Individual
Respondents noted that the current structure works well and questioned whether changing something that is functioning effectively would add more work for the Scottish Government, local authorities, and applicants.
“The report does not list a single advantage/positive from introducing devolved fees. Devolved fees may make it more difficult to calculate a verifier’s proportion of Hub fees and it would require a level of scrutiny from the [Scottish Government’s Building Standards Division] to oversee the fees set by a verifier. This is not an existing function of the BSD so it would add an unnecessary workload and another level of bureaucracy.” – Local Authority
National fees ensure a consistent service
Many noted that national fees were important to keep the service consistent across the country. Respondents argued for national consistency across all aspects of the building warrant process to ensure applicants had the same experience regardless of where an application was submitted.
“We strive for a national standard, with national interpretation of regulations.” – Individual
“Quality and standards: A nationally set fee structure can ensure consistent service quality across all regions. This prevents regions from potentially undercutting fees at the expense of the quality of service.” - Organisation
Other reasons to support national fees
Other reasons for supporting national fees were provided by several respondents. These included from most to least prevalent:
- Some individuals and local authorities suggested that some local authorities may increase fees to generate income, but without ensuring the fees reach the building standards teams.
- A few respondents, mostly local authorities, advocated for nationally set fees as this provides transparency in the fee assessment and is a way to measure the efficacy of different authorities’ approval procedures.
- A few respondents noted that locally set fees would make cooperative working between verifiers more challenging.
- One individual suggested that if costs for local authorities are greater in specific areas, there should be grants from the Scottish Government to help offset those costs.
Support for local fees
Some respondents supported setting building warrant fees locally. While two organisations agreed, most support came from individuals. Respondents suggested that there would be more flexibility if fees were set locally. Others noted variations across local authority areas, such as different costs for materials, costs of work and different economies that impacted building capacity and timescales. These respondents did not explicitly say how locally set fees would alleviate these differences.
One individual suggested that centralised procedures produced more bureaucracy.
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