Building standards enforcement and sanctions: consultation analysis

Consultation analysis report on the strengthening of existing enforcement and sanctions provisions in the Building (Scotland) Act 2003.

1. Introduction


The building standards system was established by the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 to ensure that all building works are safe, and that the system protects the public interest. Following the fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, a Ministerial Working Group was set up to review building and fire safety regulatory frameworks. The Group commissioned two Expert Review Panels for building standards; recommendations by the Review Panel on Compliance and Enforcement concluded that, whilst the core elements of the current building standards system should be maintained, some reshaping of the system was necessary to ensure that it addressed identified weaknesses.

The Building Standards Futures Board was set up to provide guidance and direction on developing and implementing the recommendations. The Board’s remit is strategically advising and directing a broad programme of work to improve the performance, expertise, resilience and sustainability of the building standards framework and services across Scotland.

A 2018 consultation on Building Standards Compliance and Fire Safety confirmed strong support for increased fines for those not complying with building regulations. A subsequent Compliance and Enforcement consultation in 2021-2022 proposed ways to strengthen the building standards system for High Risk Buildings, including introducing a Compliance Plan approach and hiring a Compliance Plan Manager.

This latest Building Standards Enforcement and Sanctions consultation aimed to gather views about proposals to strengthen the existing enforcement powers of local authorities and change the penalties for building standards offences. The findings from this analysis of responses to the consultation will be used by the Scottish Government to finalise their proposals.

The consultation was open between 6 October 2023 and 22 January 2024. Of the 12 closed questions, 10 included an option to provide additional explanatory comments. The questions mostly centred on strengthening provisions in the Building (Scotland) Act 2003, with proposals to:

  • include owners in the offences for occupation without completion (section 21).
  • include removal of work, introduce a standalone stop notice, and clarify the scope of section 27 to take action after acceptance of a completion certificate for Higher Risk Buildings (HRBs) with a time limit for serving enforcement notices (section 27).
  • increase penalties for offences (section 48) that will also apply to offences by bodies corporate etc. (section 49).

To inform impact assessments, three further questions sought to identify any additional impact these changes may have.

Respondent profile

In total, 43 consultation responses were received[1]. Almost all were submitted via the online consultation platform, Citizen Space. Those received in an alternative format, for example, an email or PDF document, were reviewed separately by the research team.

Individuals provided 18 responses to the consultation; the remaining 25 were from organisations. To aid analysis, organisations were grouped on the nature of their work. The largest number of organisations were from local authorities and their associated bodies (15)[2], professional associations and membership organisations (7) and commercial organisations and manufacturers (3) .

Analysis approach

The Lines Between was commissioned to provide a robust, independent analysis of the responses to the public consultation. The main purpose of consultation analysis is to understand the full range of views expressed, not to quantify how many people held particular views. This report provides a thematic analysis of responses based on the analysis approach outlined below.

Quantitative analysis

The analysis of responses to each question begins with a summary of the closed question data. Each table shows the number and percentage responses of all 43 respondents, illustrating the range of opinions held across the total sample. As this sample is self-selecting, no conclusions can be drawn about the level of agreement or disagreement among the general public. Each table also includes the results broken down by individual and organisational responses and by type of organisation. Please note that figures in the tables may not add to 100% due to rounding.

Qualitative analysis

Qualitative analysis identifies the key themes across responses to each question. The research team developed a draft coding framework based on a review of the consultation questions and a sample of responses. During the coding process, new codes were created if additional themes emerged.

In a small number of instances where alternative format responses contained information that did not align with specific questions, analysts exercised judgment about the most relevant place to include this material for analysis purposes.

Where appropriate, quotes from a range of participants are included to illustrate key points and provide useful examples, insights and contextual information. In some instances, these quotes are long, but they have been included to ensure the detail and complexity of the points raised are reflected accurately.

It is not possible to detail every response in this report; a few organisations shared lengthy submissions which reflect their specific subject matter expertise. These responses are referenced where possible. Full responses to the consultation, where permission for publication was granted, can be found on the Scottish Government’s consultation website.

Weight of opinion

When reviewing the analysis in this report, we ask that the reader consider that public consultation of this kind means anyone can express their views; individuals and organisations interested in the topic are more likely to respond than those without a direct or known interest. This self-selection means the views of respondents do not necessarily represent the views of the entire population.

This report presents the themes identified in responses from most to least commonly identified. All themes, including views shared by small numbers of respondents, are covered; an insightful view expressed by a very small number of participants is not given less weight than more general comments shared by a majority.

Similarly, all responses have an equal weighting. We recognise this means a response from an individual has the same weight as the response from an organisation which may represent many members, but this approach ensures all views are presented.

Qualitative analysis of open-ended questions does not permit the quantification of results. However, to assist the reader in interpreting the findings, a framework is used to convey the most to least commonly identified themes in responses to each question:

  • The most common/second most common theme; the most frequently identified.
  • Many respondents; mentioned by more than 10, another prevalent theme.
  • Several respondents; 6-10, a recurring theme.
  • Some respondents; 4-5, another theme.
  • Three/two/one; a singular comment or a view identified a few responses.



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