BRACEWELL Stirling Consulting is an architectural practice that speaks highly of the living wage scheme and has welcomed the recent increase in the hourly rate.

The company, founded in 1925, now has offices across Scotland, in Tillicoultry, Inverness and Oban, and committed to the voluntary minimum hourly rate scheme last year. It enrolled to promote a realistic wage level for staff; to send out a positive message to both clients and potential employees; and to support their philosophy of being a caring employer.

Practice director David Keith said: “Staff retention is critical to maintaining continuity of service for our clients. To achieve this, we must strive to ensure that staff aspirations and ambitions are met within an attractive employment package.

“Supporting positive initiatives such as the living wage scheme is part of our approach to ensuring that our practice is an attractive place for architectural professionals to develop their careers. The recent increase to the hourly rate to £8.45 is also welcome, further enhancing the value of the scheme for both employers and employees.”

The practice is currently recruiting for new staff and the recent opening of the Oban office allows a new staff pool to be considered.

Keith added: “Our new base in Oban will allow us to further enhance and develop our workload in the Argyll and Bute area, building on a historical portfolio of projects across the area. As a living wage accredited company, we can provide employees with the reassurance of our commitment to act as a considerate employer.

“Around the time we joined the scheme, we also committed to achieving ISO accreditation for health and safety, quality assurance and environmental management. We are now in the final stages of this process, with full implementation expected by the end of 2016. All of these initiatives have been embraced to strengthen our position in the marketplace.”

Bracewell Stirling’s core workload is larger scale residential developments and master planning, whether that is developer-led projects or social housing for local authorities and housing associations.

“The Scottish Government’s push to deliver substantial numbers of affordable properties over the next few years has seen this area of our workload continue to flourish,” said Keith.

“The practice is heavily focused on the delivery of sustainable developments and has in-house Ecohomes, Code for Sustainable Design and ‘Section 6 energy’ buildings standards certifiers. These in-house skills are critical to the delivery of cost effective, low-energy solutions and ensure that we can help our clients deliver on the government’s aspirations.”

While housing is their focus, new director Brian Ireland, who joined the practice in 2014, has been expanding their commercial project base and to date has delivered retail projects across Scotland, as well as the north of England and into Northern Ireland.

Keith added: “Brian’s addition to the team has allowed us to maintain and expand our staff base by further developing our commercial project portfolio which we have been focusing on growing since our design work on the first new build Waitrose supermarket built in 2011.”

Since it was launched in April 2014, more than 600 organisations in Scotland have signed up to the scheme to become accredited as official living wage employers.