We believe the time is right to seek a comprehensive solution to the problem of ensuring competence in this critical industry. Media reports of rogue and incompetent builders remain widespread and recent FMB research shows more than half of consumers have had a negative experience with their builder. Furthermore, one third of home owners in the UK are so anxious about hiring a poor quality builder, they have put off commissioning building work altogether. This situation persists largely because in the UK, unlike many other countries, anyone can set up a building firm and offer their services to the public.
In the UK construction industry, builders and contractors are subject to too little regulatory oversight. Along with a raft of other sector bodies, the FMB is backing the idea of a construction licensing scheme as the only sure fire means to ensure a minimum level of competence throughout the industry. Further research by the FMB has suggested that such a scheme could be governed by an overarching body and administered by a network of scheme providers, something which could be integrated within existing industry structures to minimise duplication and cost.
Research shows that there is strong support among both home owners and builders for this idea. Nearly 80 per cent of small and medium-sized (SME) building firms are in favour of introducing a licencing scheme. The same percentage of home owners are also in support in order to drive up quality, standards and professionalism.
Indeed, nearly 90 per cent of consumers believe that the Government should criminalise rogue and incompetent builders. A licensing scheme would provide a means of barring and removing from the industry those who are shown to be incompetent, or who undermine standards as a matter of course.
Licensing would offer more protection to consumers and put upwards pressure on standards. Over time, the need to renew licences could also be used to promote upskilling and to update technical and regulatory knowledge. It would have the potential to drive a transformation in culture and professionalism across the industry. With a regulatory framework like this in place, and the industry no longer held back by cowboys, we could finally see the birth of a truly world-class construction industry in the UK.