Construction Industry Launches Mandatory Contractor Licensing Task Force

THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY has announced it will develop a mandatory licensing scheme for all UK construction companies.

The FMB says the compulsory scheme will transform the sector into a high quality and professional industry.

A new Construction Licensing Task Force, supported by a range of industry bodies, will lead the development of the licensing scheme.

The announcement was made yesterday at the Federation of Master Builder’s (FMB) Summer Reception in the House of Lords attended by Housing minister, James Brockenshire MP and Shadow minister, John Healey MP.

The FMB says the need for a scheme to license contractors was clear after independent research by OnePoll in June 2018 of 2,000 homeowners found that:

  • One third (32%) of homeowners are put off doing major home improvement works because they fear hiring a dodgy builder;
  • 78% of consumers also want to see a licensing scheme for construction introduced;
  • Nearly 90% of home owners believe that the Government should criminalise rogue and incompetent builders;
  • Over half of people (55%) who commission home improvement work have had a negative experience with their builder.

The findings show that the UK economy could be missing out on £10 billion of construction activity per year because of anxiety over rogue building firms, the FMB claims.

The organisation also says that more than three-quarters (77%) of small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms support the introduction of licensing to professionalise the industry, protect consumers and side-line unprofessional and incompetent building firms.

The decision to establish a Construction Licensing Task Force followed a recommendation in an independent research report by Pye Tait published last year called ‘Licence to build: A pathway to licensing UK construction’, which describes the benefits of introducing a licensing scheme for the whole construction industry and proposes how it could work.

The Task Force will be chaired by Liz Peace CBE, former CEO of the British Property Federation, and organisations sitting on it are:

Association of Consultancy and Engineering Glass and Glazing Federation / FENSA
British Property Federation Local Authority Building Control
Chartered Institute of Building Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Construction Products Association TrustMark
Electrical Contractors Association Which? Trusted Traders
Federation of Master Builders  
Liz Peace, Chair of the Construction Licensing Task Force and Chair of the Parliament Restoration Board

Liz Peace CBE, Chair of the Construction Licensing Task Force, comments: “Mandatory licensing has the potential to transform our industry into a world-leading sector. Licensing will help drive up standards and help address the issue of quality and professionalism, which is some areas, is falling short.

“At the heart of what we’re trying to do is increase protection for the ordinary person who engages with the construction sector.”

“Licensing has support in principle from more than 30 construction organisations and consumer groups. The Task Force will be supported by major players and in an industry that is often criticised for being too fractured and disparate, I am heartened by the fact that the sector is coming together to lead the industry in a new direction. I’m also pleased that senior civil servants from BEIS and MHCLG will sit on the Task Force as observers, as Government engagement right from the outset is crucial to the successful development of the scheme.”

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB)

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The vast majority of builders and homeowners want to see the construction industry professionalised. It’s unacceptable that more than half of consumers have had a negative experience with their builder.

“However, we shouldn’t be surprised by this given that in the UK, it is perfectly legal for anyone to set up a building firm and start selling their services without any prior experience or qualifications. This cannot be right given the nature of the work and the potential health and safety risks when something goes wrong. In countries like Australia and Germany, building firms require a licence and we want to develop a scheme that regulates our industry in a similar manner. I am delighted to be part of the Construction Licensing Task Force and will ensure that any such scheme works for small building firms.”

The FMB offers a free service to consumers called ‘Find a Builder’ at www.fmb.org.uk.

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