Attendees and apologies
- Professor Russel Griggs (Chairman), CBI
- Susan Love, FSB
- Ewan MacDonald-Russell, SRC
- Ben Hayes, Scottish Government (agenda item 3)
- Ged Millar, Scottish Government (agenda item 3)
- Claire Tosh, Scottish Government (agenda item 3)
- Marion McCormack, Scottish Government
- Sandra Reid, Scottish Government
- Wendy McCutcheon, Scottish Government
- Caitlin Heaney, Scottish Government
- Scott Walker, NFUS
- Alice Telfer, ICAS
- Sheila Scobie, CMA
- Ian Cass, FPB
- Garry Clark, Scottish Chambers of Commerce
- Robert Nicol, COSLA
- Stephen Boyd, STUC
- Mari Tunby, CBI
- Glenn Preston, Scotland Office
- Sarah Smith, Regulatory Delivery, BIS
Items and actions
Welcome and introductions
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting, especially Ewan MacDonald-Russell, who was the new Scottish Retail Consortium RRG representative. The Chair apologised for the low turnout of members but due to the lateness of some apologies being received, it had been too late to cancel the meeting.
Agenda item 1 – Minutes of previous meeting
The minutes were approved and an update on action points provided.
Agenda item 2 – Chairman’s report
The Chair provided an oral update on recent meetings listed in the tabled paper. Susan Love highlighted that Ensuring that Markets Work Well for Businesses and Consumers – A Strategic Assessment of Markets in Scotland has recently been launched. This publication is this Government’s first step in identifying markets where Scottish consumers may not be getting a fair deal. It highlights areas where Scottish consumers’ economic, geographic and social circumstances are different to other parts of the UK and may pose a different set of challenges.
A consultation has been launched on the Social Housing Charter which was introduced by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010. Part of this charter provides the basis for the Scottish Housing Regulator to monitor, assess and report on the performance of social landlords, and if necessary to require compliance with the charter, and through the Regulator’s reports. As RRG had previously provided advice on the Bill, it was deemed appropriate to review the report on this and whether RRG should respond to this consultation.
It was noted that the COSLA regulatory forum had been postponed. The future of this forum is being looked at along with other similar meetings. Susan Love highlighted the loss of the funded post of Mirren Kelly of COSLA and the work which this supported. The Chair has agreed to facilitate a roundtable discussion in September between Scottish Government officials and relevant stakeholders to discuss the EC Environmental Assessment Directive. The Chair has also been invited to speak at a European Seminar on Smart Regulation and Smart Growth conference in Austria in November.
- Secretariat to advise on an RRG response to the Social Housing Charter
Agenda item 3 – The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014
The Chair thanked Better Homes Division officials for coming along to provide an update on the mobile home site licensing in Scotland, specifically in relation to licensing.
In 2013, policy officials attended RRG to provide an update on proposals and progress on the licensing of residential mobile homes in Scotland. Subsequently the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 was introduced.
This Act allows for the creation of a licensing scheme for sites with year-round residents. Local authorities have been given enforcement powers and the power to set licence fees. This licence does not apply to holiday sites and only the residential sites on a mixed site. The Act contains some exemptions. The scheme comes into force in spring 2017 with a two year transition period.
The licences run for a total of five years and the licence fee set is for the duration and not a per year fee. RRG raised concerns over ensuring transparency, consistency and proportionality. All applications have a three month turnaround period. If local authorities breach that time limit the licence is automatically granted.
Policy officials are considering the responses from the November 2015 consultation. The analysis of the responses will help inform the draft regulations for the new licensing system. Wales has recently implemented a similar scheme and officials are in touch with their Welsh counterparts.
A pro-active communication campaign will be key to ensuring the success of this scheme. RRG suggested that policy officials may wish to encourage local authorities to ensure that all affected site and mobile home owners are aware of this scheme and what it actually entails; ascertain how many joint sites each local authority has; and also to contact the Scottish Tourism Alliance to ensure that they, and their members, are away of this scheme. It was noted that currently it tends to be environmental health officers that have responsibility for sites however as this scheme focuses on civic licensing this task may sit elsewhere. Policy officials may wish to contact SOLAR (Society of Local Authority Lawyers & Administrators in Scotland) for further advice on this.
RRG’s final piece of advice was for policy officials to build in time to review the guidance at an appropriate time.
Agenda Item 4 – Voluntary regulation review
Wendy McCutcheon presented this paper stating that the phase 1 review had been carried out. Comments were now requested from members and next steps agreed.
Supporting Healthy Choices Voluntary Framework
This framework was developed to allow organisations to undertake voluntary action to support and encourage consumers to make healthier food and drink choices. There are 17 commitments across four core principles and organisations can choose the commitments they wish to sign up to. Published in June 2014, to date there are nine organisations signed up to the framework.
Comments from RRG members included the lack of BRIA although it was recognised that engagement with stakeholders had taken place. It was also noted that the framework was considered an action plan rather than regulation. This comment then led on to a wider discussion on BRIAs and how to ensure that voluntary regulation is recognised more widely within the Scottish Government and treated in the same way as mandatory legislation such as the completion of a BRIA.
Other comments around the framework focused on the relevancy of this framework. It was also suggested that it would be good to have a mapping of how all the related initiatives linked in to one another.
Policy officials have agreed to attend RRG’s August meeting to discuss the framework in more detail. In the meantime secretariat will discuss comments raised with them and in particular how it fits with other initiatives and whether it remains relevant and any next steps planned.
Following August’s meeting a sub group may be formed to consider further.
Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs)
NVZs are areas designated as being at risk from agricultural nitrate pollution. Competent authorities are required to review the rules and boundaries of their NVZs at least every four years. Due to changes in EU methodology Stranraer Lowlands (Piltanton) was designated as a NVZ and regulations began to take force on 1 January 2016. However, as Piltanton had previously been highlighted as an area of concern, local stakeholders had established the Piltanton Burn Catchment Initiative to encourage good practice and invested heavily in this initiative.
Concerns are now being raised as to the financial burden of being an NVZ zone on these businesses. Recognising this was an EU directive, it would be helpful to know if farmers in the initiative were fully appraised of the implications when they signed up to the voluntary approach. What lessons could be learned from this?
Further information is required from Scott Walker before progress can be made on background provided to the stakeholders in the initiative.
- Secretariat to discuss framework comments with policy officials
- Secretariat to contact Scott Walker for further information
Agenda item 5 – Forthcoming agendas
The agendas for August and October were discussed and noted. The Chair had recently met with Linda Urquhart, Chair of the Fair Work Convention and discussed the recently published Fair Work Framework 2016. RRG Chair suggested Scottish Government policy officials attend future RRG meeting to discuss this framework with specific reference.
- Secretariat to invite Fair Work colleagues to future RRG meeting
Agenda item 6 – AOB
There was one item raised under AOB:
Department for Business Innovation and Skills has released a call for evidence for non-compete clauses. The UK Government is seeking views on whether non-compete clauses can unfairly hinder workers from moving freely between employers, and from developing innovative ideas, translating those ideas into a start-up, and growing businesses. This call for evidence closes on 19 July 2016.