Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC):Cross Sector Working Group minutes 25 October 2023

Minutes from the meeting held on 25 October 2023.

Attendees and apologies

The Scottish Government

  • Building Standards Division (Chair)
  • NHS Strategic Capital Investment
  • Property and Construction
  • Housing Standards and Quality
  • Education
  • Police
  • Criminal Law, Practice and Licensing
  • Estate Strategy and Planning
  • Health Infrastructure and Sustainability
  • Community Justice

External stakeholders

  • Local Authority Building Standards Scotland
  • Loughborough University
  • NHS Scotland Assure
  • Scottish Prisons Service
  • Scottish Courts Service
  • Built Environment Forum Scotland
  • Scottish Funding Council
  • UK Finance
  • BE-ST
  • Historic Environment Scotland
  • Falkirk Council
  • Police Scotland 
  • Edinburgh Council
  • Dundee Council
  • West Dunbartonshire Council
  • Scottish Funding Council
  • Scottish Futures Trust

Items and actions

Note of last meeting (11 October) and actions

Update on previous actions 

Action point 6.1 

Update given on LGHP Committee and it was noted that the official report of this is now available for which the link will be circulated with the minute of this meeting. Meeting of the Parliament: LGHP/03/10/2023, Scottish Parliament website.

Action point 6.2

For group members to send comments on the ToR by next meeting so that these can be finalised and published – update under Agenda item 3.

Action point 6.3

Meeting to discuss issues with RAAC in commercial, non-public sector buildings to assess risk set up for 14 November. 

Action point 6.4 

Invite has been extended to HSE colleagues.  

CSWG Terms of Reference (ToR)

The meeting noted the terms of reference which were shared in August and the group was asked to review these terms of reference and consider if there is anything that needs to be revised given the changing scope and frequency of the meetings. Draft version will be finalised by Friday 27 October 2023 so any comments can be sent before then (action 7.1).  

Overview of RAAC situation, including RAE Session feedback, capacity and capability, data and information

  • the Chair provided an update on UK Cross Government group which met at an extraordinary meeting on 11 October 2023. The Chair noted that this forum has been invaluable and is keen to continue to share information with UK counterparts; this was echoed by the Cabinet Office who welcomed Scottish Government’s participation on the group  
  • the last ministerial meeting was on 5 October 2023 and the next is scheduled to take place on 26 October 2023 chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice and officials continue to provide assurance that each sector is taking action where risks are identified      
  • the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) held a roundtable session chaired by Professor Peter Guthrie from Cambridge University to understand other built environment risks and system changes required to mitigate any failures in the future. Chair agreed to share any outputs from this discussion with the group (action 7.2). It was also noted that the UK Government Office for Science have a roundtable discussion on RAAC planned    
  • the Construction Leadership Forum (CLF), chaired by Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism and Trade met today with representation across the construction industry in Scotland and UK wide. The Chair provided an update on RAAC to CLF group members and noted an interest from Unite trade union and Robertson Construction to be represented on this cross sector working group and will be invited to future meetings (action 7.3)  
  • Institute for Structural Engineering (IStrutE) are due to hold a session next week on further development of FAQ’s to help dispel some of the myths surrounding RAAC. The Chair agreed that these could be shared via pages (action 7.4): IStructE statement and FAQs: Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) - The Institution of Structural Engineers    

Use of dangerous buildings powers under the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 for RAAC

BSD Procedures team provided an overview of Building (Scotland) Act 2003, Sections 29 and 30, powers to protect the public from dangerous buildings with a duty for local authorities to act immediately. The powers allow local authorities to serve a notice on building owners to reduce or remove any dangers within set commencement and completion dates. There is no requirement for building warrant approval for work to reduce or remove the danger, however a completion certificate must be submitted to the verifier when work is complete. In an emergency incident the local authority can undertake work to remove the danger including erecting a cordon on a building owner’s behalf to maintain public safety. Under sections 42 and 43, an evacuation notice can be served to building occupiers if there is an imminent danger. The local authority must give notice to occupants when it is safe for occupation to resume. The local authority can also recover any costs of work, when they take action, from the building owner through their usual debt recovery procedures or by registering a charging order in the appropriate land registry. Repayment by the owner can be done in a single instalment or in annual instalments of 5 to 30 payments.   

Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS) clarified that these powers are generally used in extreme circumstances in consultation with relevant partners (e.g. Police, Fire) and can be modified or rescinded at any time if further evidence come to light that public safety is maintained. In most situations building owners are able to resolve any issues without intervention and LABSS confirmed that local authorities do not take decisions to evacuate lightly and assess each scenario on a case by case basis within the wider context of their duties under housing legislation. All of these issues are considered under local contingency planning procedures and lessons learned shared across local authorities in Scotland.  

RAAC replacement and management – good practice

  • the group discussed approaches to decision making and potential case studies to demonstrate varying options dependent on analysis of the building’s condition and fit for purpose/use within the context of a wider asset management strategy. It was noted that the Heads of Property forum exchange information across the group and have hosted a series of workshops to facilitate learning    
  • the group agreed there was a need to have a better mechanism to share best practice relating to the decision making process for RAAC replacement and management and consideration of the longer term implications of decisions. The Chair agreed a sub-group would be formed in the coming weeks to consider how this can be achieved (action 7.5)

Sector updates

Sector updates were not provided at this meeting due to time constraints. It was noted that work was continuing across sectors to gather information to inform the current position.     

Any other business

There was no other business to be discussed.

Date of next meeting

TBC – meetings will be scheduled for mid-November and mid-December 2023.  

Actions arising from meeting

Action point 7.1

ToR draft version will be finalised by Friday 27 October 2023 so any comments can be sent before then.   

Action point 7.2

Share any outputs from Royal Academy of Engineering roundtable session.    

Action point 7.3

Invite Unite trade union and Robertson Construction representatives to be invited to future meetings.   

Action point 7.4

Share IStructE FAQs via website.    

Action point 7.5

Establish a sub-group to consider best practice.    

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