News - Construction News

FMB calls for construction licensing

Almost 80% of builders and consumers support a license scheme for the UK construction industry.

According to new research published by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), the majority of industry members and consumers think a licensing scheme for construction would help stamp out rogue traders.

The independent research report by Pye Tait entitled ‘Licence to build: A pathway to licensing UK construction’, was commissioned by the FMB to show how the construction industry can improve its image. The report details the benefits of introducing a licensing scheme for the whole construction industry and puts forward a proposal for how it could work.

Meanwhile, new consumer research undertaken by the FMB reveals the impact rogue traders and poor experiences with building firms has on consumers, with nearly all home owners showing support for a mandatory licensing scheme. With over half of consumers having had a bad experience with a builder, 90% believe that the Government should criminalise rogue and incompetent builders.

Commenting on the research report, which was launched at a high profile event in the House of Lords yesterday, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The vast majority of builders and home owners want to see the construction industry professionalised and it is time for the Government to act. 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 see the UK Government regulate our industry in a similar manner.”

Berry continued: “Aside from the obvious health and safety benefits, the advantages of a licensing scheme are manifold. Licensing would bar from the industry the very worst firms operating in the construction sector. Consumer protection would increase and with it, the appetite among home owners to undertake more construction work. We also believe that if we can improve the image of the industry through licensing, young people, parents and teachers will have a more favourable impression of our sector and therefore be more likely to pursue, or recommend, a career in construction. Over time, this would gradually help ease the construction skills shortage we currently face. For too long, the very worst construction firms, most of which undertake private domestic work, have been giving the whole sector a bad name. So that’s why this scheme should be of interest to the whole sector and not just small local builders.”

Berry concluded: “In terms of how the scheme might work, it needn’t be too costly or bureaucratic. Our report draws on the experience of experts from across the construction industry and puts forward a clear proposal. We are suggesting that the scheme covers all paid-for construction work by firms of all sizes, not just those working in the domestic sector. Fees should be tiered and could start at as little as £150 every three to five years, with the largest contractors paying around £1,000 over the same period. In terms of how it’s governed, the licence should be administered by a single authority with a broad range of scheme providers sitting underneath. We are now keen to reach out to the whole construction sector to get their input on the proposal. If we can demonstrate broad support for this approach, we are optimistic that the Government will take it forward.”

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