Cross-party support for licensing the UK construction industry

Posted On: 
4th July 2018

Construction Minister Richard Harrington and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell showed cross-party support for licensing the construction industry at the launch of the Federation of Master Builders’ new report in Westminster.

Construction Minister Richard Harrington speaks at the FMB's launch event on Monday.

The Federation of Master Builders’ new report, Licence to build: A pathway to licensing UK constructionwas launched in parliament on Monday night.

The report, which details the benefits of introducing a licensing scheme for the whole construction industry, was enthusiastically welcomed by the Construction Minister Richard Harrington, who said “I welcome this report… [the] process started by the report will help us a lot.  I feel instinctively [it] is… the right way.”

The Minister also said that licensing the construction industry will drive up standards. He said “the serious point is from a quality point of view…tragic things…have happened, Grenfell is the one that comes to mind obviously for everyone.”

He added that “as far as the quality of buildings is concerned, things are changing,” and that move towards excellence in the industry “is personified by the FMB and its members.”

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell also spoke at the event and threw his support behind the report.

McDonnell said: “Licensing the UK construction will put an end to the problem of cowboy builders”. He continued to say that construction firms are “being continuously undercut by cowboy firms, delivering poor quality. It’s a real problem.”

He warned that unless the issue is addressed, the UK will “be in a situation where cowboy builders are building the slums of tomorrow.”

At the launch, the FMB’s Chief Executive, Brian Berry, issued a call to action to all parts of the construction sector and beyond to support the licensing of all UK construction companies.

“We will end the tyranny of the cowboy builder once and for all” said Berry.

According to the FMB, currently anyone can call themselves a builder in the UK and the “informal economy” which is fuelled by rogue traders is worth an estimated 9.7 billion pounds.

“Rogue traders are dampening demand for construction work and consumers are so worried about hiring a dodgy builder that they are putting off commissioning any building work whatsoever. What this means is that consumers are being left to exploitation.” explained Berry.

One way to tackle the issue is to introduce a licensing scheme for construction. This solution seems to have wide support from consumers with new FMB research revealing that 78% of customers are in favour of the idea.  The strong support for professionalising the industry reveals the impact poor quality building firms are having on consumers, says FMB.

The introduction of a licencing scheme has also been met with approval from small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms.

The FMB’s research shows that 77% of SME construction firms support the introduction of licensing to professionalise the industry, protect consumers and side-line the cowboys.

Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Maddock emphasised the report’s particular importance to both consumers and also small businesses whose reputations are ruined “when other businesses don’t do the job properly.”

The event was attended by politicians from across the political spectrum, evidence, said McDonnell, that the issue had cross-party support and “how committed we are to tackling this housing crisis and the need to build, but the need to build with quality.”

The report suggests the scheme covers all paid-for construction work by firms of all sizes, not just those working in the domestic sector.

The research also demonstrated that most home owners support the introduction of a mandatory licensing scheme with nearly 90% of home owners believing that the Government should criminalise rogue and incompetent builders.