Welcome and action points from previous meeting
It was noted that this was the first meeting of this Ministerial Working Group. The Minister thanked all the members for making time to attend, particularly during this difficult time.
Technical Working Group – Building and Fire Safety
Officials provided an update on the aim of the Technical Working Group (TWG) which has been established to consider and produce any adaptation for Scotland of the Consolidated Advice Note published by the UK Government on 30 January 2020. The membership of the TWG comprises experts from across industry and officials from Scottish Government.
The first meeting of the TWG was held on 22 April with two further meetings planned in May. The TWG will report to the Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety on 11 June 2020. It is expected that advice for Scotland will be published in summer 2020.
AP1 - SG officials to circulate the note of the meetings to members of the Ministerial Working Group
The members of the MWG discussed a range of issues, including:
- Concern was raised that different processes around the EWS1 in Scotland, compared to the rest of the UK may result in different standards in Scotland. It was noted that for some years there have been different standards between Scotland and England, and that has predominantly resulted in stronger standards in Scotland. While professional guidance applies across the whole of the UK, there are currently differences that apply in Scotland, for example, the Home Reports, and professionals have been able to accommodate the differences.
- Consistency of messaging on mortgage lending matters across the UK is important, particularly on how buildings of different heights are treated in the EWS1 process. It was noted that there are discussions ongoing around buildings lower than 18 metres, and consideration is being given to how any requirements for those buildings can be implemented.
- It was noted that having the EWS1 in advance of any Home Report would be helpful for homeowners and professionals.
- In England consideration is being given to adapting the Fire Risk Assessment to include certain parts of the building as ‘common parts’, including external wall cladding. It is noted that the requirements of the Fire (Scotland) Act do not include common areas of domestic flats.
- When the EWS1 was devised, it was intended that there would be one form per building. It was noted, however, that in Scotland it appears to be operating differently with householders obtaining an EWS1 report for their own flat. The limitations of this approach were discussed.
- It was noted that greater clarity on who would be able to complete the EWS1 forms was required. This is an issue being considered for the EWS1 as a whole.
- The importance of maintaining good communications with actions being taken by the UK government on resolving this issue was noted.
- The benefit of a central hub of EWS1 forms was discussed. It was noted that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is working with the Fire Industry Association to develop a suitable portal and database. It was noted that assurance on the integrity of any EWS1 forms issued was important for homeowners and professionals.
AP2: SG officials to contact members of the MWG to establish smaller sub-groups to consider actions required to resolve issues causing difficulties for people in buying, selling and remortgaging properties in buildings with external wall cladding.
AP3 – Discussions to be held to determine the extent of any issue around availability of professional indemnity insurance for professionals undertaking EWS1 work.
AOB & date of future meeting
The MWG agreed the next meeting would be scheduled when sufficient progress had been made on the actions required.
Attendees and apologies
Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning (Chair)
John Baguley, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Douglas Cochrane, UK Finance
Ian Fergusson, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Stewart McKenzie, UK Finance
David Reid, Property Managers’ Association Scotland
Alastair Ross, Association of British Insurers
Brian Smith, Law Society of Scotland
Stephen Wood, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
Stephen Garvin, Head of Building Standards Division
Shona Harper, Building Standards Division
Nicola Barclay, Homes for Scotland
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