Part 4: Devolved Building Warrant Fees
As part of a wider Scottish Government initiative to develop a New Deal with Local Government, BSD asked the research contractor to consider the advantages and disadvantages of setting building standards fees at local authority level.
Currently, the structure of fees for building warrants is set centrally by the Scottish Government and provides for consistent and predictable costs nationally. The payable fee to the local authority verifier depends on the value of the building warrant work and other factors such as any certification discounts and surcharges. The research reviewed the fee system in England and Wales, that is set by each individual local authority or approved inspector and explored the advantages and disadvantages of three main options:
- Option 1: full devolution of fees
- Option 2: partial devolution of fees with national guidance
- Option 3: partial devolution of fees with deviation from a national fee structure
The report found that:
- There are no specific impediments or factors that would make the introduction of a devolved system inherently difficult. A devolved system has operated in England and Wales for many years and the challenges there relate not to the devolved nature of the system per se but the competition element. It has been beyond the scope of this research to consider the introduction of competition into building warrant in Scotland.
- Scottish Government would have to decide how far it needed to set parameters around the scope for authorities to set fees as they wished (within an overall cost recovery framework).
- There would need to be some form of policing or oversight of fee setting by Scottish Government to ensure that the overall level of fees raised were reasonable compared to the cost of provision and guidance and/or legislation in this regard.
- Having devolved fees might make it more complicated to fund central services and features such as the Hub (although in principle this could be based on warrants issued or fee income by authority).
- A devolved system (in full or part) would introduce variations in fee levels and approaches across Scotland which might cause some mild complication for those users who operate across several authorities. However, this does not feature as a significant concern in England and Wales.
Question 4.1 – Should building warrant fees be set at national or local level?
Please select only one answer and provide your reasoning in the box below.
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