The building standards system in Scotland is administered by the thirty-two local authority verifiers appointed by me as the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning. Verifiers carry out the important function of protecting the public interest by providing an independent check of applications for building warrants to construct or demolish buildings, to provide services, fittings or equipment in buildings, or building conversions. They check the work during the design phase before granting a building warrant and during the construction phase before accepting a completion certificate. This is delivered with a modest number of people in the workforce.
Their commitment to service delivery is evidenced by the number and diversity of projects handled by building standards professionals in any given year. Annually, there are around 40,000 building warrant applications that contribute a total value of nearly £7 billion to the economy.
As Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, I see the contribution that verifiers make to ensure our buildings are compliant with building regulations by delivering an efficient essential regulatory service in every local authority area across Scotland. In recent months, verifiers have shown resilience and capability to address challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Pragmatic and flexible approaches have ensured that building standards staff have maintained services to customers, supported the phased re-start of the construction industry and innovated with digital technology to introduce remote inspections when it was impossible to carry out physical inspection on site.
The aim of the workforce strategy is to bring to the fore the importance of having the right blend of skills and experience to carry out their role as a verifier, maintaining and building their capacity and capability to deliver a sustainable service into the future.
This strategy is for them and for people who want to join the building standards profession and build a career that makes a positive impact on all of our communities.
The strategy actions are designed to strengthen the national building standards workforce to make it sustainable for future years. This outcome has been a focus of the Building Standards Futures Board over the last year as work to transform delivery of the system moves into the next phase of activity. Improving operational resilience, supporting effective recruitment and expanding the range of relevant learning opportunities are at the heart of the strategy.
The actions are integral to national and local level commitments that set clear intentions for change. The commitments and actions have been developed with input from industry stakeholders, related Scottish Government policy teams, local authorities as employers, and Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS). I welcome the early and continuing involvement from individuals and their organisations in developing this approach and supporting delivery as we move forward. The strategy recognises the insight and influence from partners and I appreciate their willingness to participate in partnership working on our shared goals.
Local authorities, in their role as building standards verifiers, pursue continuous improvement activities to address aspects of their performance. Regular performance reporting shows a good level of service and an upward trend across key performance outcomes. However, action to support managers to develop and sustain the workforce is necessary due to an ageing demographic and the limited perception of building standards as a profession in its own right.
I endorse the strategy and I am determined that everyone working in a building standards role is able to gain the broad range of skills and experience they need, establish a professional career and ensure the essential services they provide continue to thrive. I hope this strategy brings a focus to the challenges and enables cooperation on achieving success.
Kevin Stewart MSP,
Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning