Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety minutes: June 2023

Minutes from the meeting held on the 21 June 2023.

Attendees and apologies

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice

Minister for Net Zero Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights

Minister for Victims and Community Safety

Minister for Housing


Stephen Garvin, Head of Building Standards Division

Neil Mitchell, Building Standards Division

Colette Templeton, Building Standards Division

Colin Hird, Building Standards Division

Tom Hardy, Safer Communities Division

Lisel Porch, Safer Communities Division

James Clark, Safer Communities Division

Chris Booth, Safer Communities Division

Andy Dailly, Schools Infrastructure Unit

Gordon Stewart, National Treatment Centres Programme (Health)

Rachel Sunderland, DD Cladding Remediation Division

David Dourley, SFRS Area Commander

Ian MacLeod, SFRS

Bill Connolly, Health Facilities Scotland



Sean Neill, Director for Local Government and Housing

Mo Rooney, Deputy Director, Safer Communities

Robert Scott, HM Chief Inspector of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

Alan Morrison, DD Health Infrastructure, Investment and PPE

Philip McLean, Health Infrastructure, Investment and PPE

Naeem Bhatti, Better Homes Division

Ruth Whatling, Better Homes Division

Items and actions

  1. Welcome and action points from previous meeting

The Chair noted that this is the 22nd meeting of the ministerial working group (MWG). There are now four Ministers on the Group, with The Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants Rights being the only Minister to continue on the group since the last meeting. It was noted that the minutes of the previous MWG meeting held on Wednesday 31 January 2023 were agreed and published. 

Update on previously agreed action points:

  • AP1 and AP2 ongoing – a further paper on reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) is included in today’s agenda and a progress update on NHS RAAC surveys
  • AP3 – complete: submissions were provided to Ministers on cameron house hotel fatal accident inquiry (FAI) and the short life working group was set up.  An update paper today will provide the latest position
  • AP4 – ongoing: the reports into both these fires are ongoing, further advice will be provided to Ministers once reports are available
  • AP5 – complete: new terms of reference (ToR) were sent to Ministers for agreement, and will be discussed in the next item

No further comments were received.


  1. MWG background paper and terms of reference 

Scottish government (SG) officials confirmed that the ToR has been updated and issued. 

Cabinet Secretary asked about whether or not there should be a separate group set up for other issues with the Jenners fire being highlighted. SG officials responded noting that the ToR can be edited to add on other areas of concern.

AP1 –  minor update to ToR, to reflect the Cabinet Secretary’s comments.  



  1. Cameron house hotel

SG officials provided an update on the cameron house hotel short life working group (SLWG).  The final meeting of the SLWG (27 June 2023) will look at the final report and next steps. The draft final report will be sent to Ministers for clearance. 

Recommendations one, two and three were directed towards the hotel and B&B industry. As part of this work, the scottish tourism alliance (STA) and UK hospitality Scotland (UKHS) (part of the the SLWG) as umbrella organisations have explored stronger procedures to be put in place by some businesses and communications highlighting the FAI recommendations is already underway.    

Recommendations four and five were directed towards the scottish government. SG officials note that the recommendations have been accepted, with the work of the SLWG allowing short and long term measures to manage risk to be discussed with key stakeholders. 

Recommendation six was directed at the scottish fire and rescue service (SFRS). SFRS has acted immediately and put in place procedural changes to address its recommendation in its entirety.  These changes have included changes to its own internal fire safety enforcement (FSE) fire safety audit procedure and guidance to detail key actions that all protection officers (POs) must apply as part of the process. 

It was noted that the Minister for Victims and Community Safety will meet with the mother of one of the fire victim’s in the next week. 

Ministers asked if there was a timescale of when the report will be completed.  SG officials responded that it is expected that the report will be completed over the summer. 

Ministers asked about engagement with industry stakeholders in the SLWG.  Officials considered that it was positive and all parties were seeking improvements and to take forward the recommendations.


  1. Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete Panels (RAAC)

It was noted that there has been a lot of interest in RAAC in the media recently and through PQs. The main use of this material was in buildings built from the 1960s to 1980s. It is no longer used. It is a light material and if exposed to water over a number of years it can cause problems. This is what caused the collapse of the school roof in 2018 in England. 

Officials noted that this led to information being published and changes being made to guidance after this collapse. It was also noted that health and safety at work legislation is under the jurisdiction of the UK government. Officials highlighted that it is the statutory requirement of building owners to ensure safety. There has been relevant guidance given out within Scotland to local authorities and health boards. Officials noted that this topic cuts across a lot of sectors and ministerial areas. A recommendation would be to have a more proactive approach to coordination in order to pull all cross-government sectors together.  This was agreed by Ministers.

A number of points were discussed with Ministers seeking views from officials on the following:

  • the balance between public and private sector buildings, and how local authorities are dealing with abandoned buildings and absent landlords
  • the use of RAAC in housing
  • the likely overall costs of remediation across different sectors
  • where did liability sit for RAAC and whether or not there was a responsibility on the original developers
  • the risk management options for RAAC and how this impacts on the use of certain buildings

The Cabinet Secretary requested that information should be passed on to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and the Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care. 

AP2 –  a submission with the RAAC paper annexed to Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and the Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care. 

AP3 – further advice will be provided on RAAC to Ministers at the next MWG meeting, reporting actions in the interim as required.



  1. Cladding Remediation Programme

An update was provided on the cladding remediation program. There are 105 buildings in the program, 14 are at the reporting stage which means action can begin on remediation as required.  Action is being taken to manage risk at buildings following the completion of the single building assessments. Developers, the local authorities, SFRS, the police and the residents are involved in discussions with the Scottish government.

The Scottish government has received eight letters of commitment to the Cladding Accord from developers to date. The long-form contract is being developed for agreement with developers.

Larger developers can meet the full costs of remediation. For small and medium sized developers officials continue to work on partial cost recovery or payment options.


  1. Progress Updates

SG officials proceeded to provide oral updates to Ministers on several workstreams.

NHS Estates

The program of cladding replacement at the queen Elizabeth hospital was highlighted in detail.  NHS Scotland assure have commissioned RAAC surveys. The discovery phase of the program will take six months to complete. The NHS have issued a safety notice to NHS boards asking that boards conduct a risk assessment and give an indication as to how to manage / mitigate the risks found. 

School Estates

It was noted that local authorities are undertaking RAAC assessments of their school estates following guidance being shared by officials. The Scottish Government is engaging with HSE on asbestos inspections with 420 inspections taking place across the UK. Various levels of compliance have been found.  The education secretary will be updated alongside ministers on the MWG. 

Fire Risk Assessments

The competency of fire risk assessors is an issue that has been raised in evidence during the grenfell tower inquiry. Currently in Scotland (and across the UK), there is no legal requirement for an assessor to hold any formal certification, accreditation or experience in fire risk assessment, when assessing many types of premises, including those of a higher risk, such as sleeping premises. 

Officials are working closely with the UK, Welsh and Northern Irish Governments through a four nations working group to develop understanding and evidence of the need to bring in legislation and also to ensure a consistent approach is taken on this across the UK (should Ministers wish to do so), taking into account the different nuances in legislation where appropriate, especially given that many fire risk assessors work across the UK.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry

Evidence sessions were completed last year, which had taken more than two years and covered eight thematic modules. Officials have recently met with counterparts from the UK Government, (DLUHC), in order to discuss the likely timetable for the publication of the Phase 2 Inquiry report and related matters. 

Phase 2 report is expected to be published next year. If the report is published mid ministerial working groups it would be beneficial to host an additional meeting.

Officials and key partners (SFRS, HMFI, LABSS and the NHS) continue to meet regularly in anticipation of the issues that the Phase 2 report will raise. 

Futures Board

An update on the building standards futures board related work was provided, focussing on progress on the building standards hub and the compliance plan.


  1. AOB

No other business was raised.                                                                                                                    

The next meeting will take place in December 2023.

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