Mandatory Construction Licensing Scheme- What it Could Mean For You

After a number of the construction industry’s leading bodies recently outlined plans for its Mandatory Licencing Scheme to improve the professionalism and image of the sector, we look at these plans and how they might affect you.

By Larry Bohan on 14 August 2019

two builders taking a break during work

With a third of people put off carrying out home improvements over fear of landing a rogue builder and half of those who commission building work having had a negative experience with theirs, the industry has decided to act.

This anxiety over 'dodgy' builders is estimated to be costing the UK economy up to £10 billion, according to the Federation of Master Builders.

This summer a task force, made up of a number of the constructions leading organisations and groups, has outlined plans to restore the nation’s confidence in builders and improve overall quality and professionalism.

What's The Plan?

construction workers in high vis jackets

The task force's main aim is for the creation of a mandatory licencing scheme with a UK-wide remit that will become an effective means of regulating entrance and exit from the construction industry and ensure commitment to basic standards accepted by all.

Two of the biggest drivers behind this are failing health and safety standards and the unregulated cash in hand economy that can see cowboy outfits undercut professional firms and deprive the economy, all while using substandard materials, sometimes without insurance.

The task force, made up of representatives from FENSA, FMB and RICS among others, is continuing to develop the scheme.

Several important aspects still need addressing, including whether it will be a single overarching UK body with responsibility for all aspects or if it will use existing local structures, for example local authorities.

It is claimed that over three quarters of SME construction businesses support the introduction of some form of mandatory licencing.

What's Been Said?

Liz Peace, Chair of the Task Force and former CEO of the British Property Federation:

"Licensing will help drive up standards and help address the issue of quality and professionalism, which in 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."

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

"It's unacceptable that more than half of consumers have 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. We want to to develop a scheme that regulates our industry in a similar manager to he likes of Germany and Australia."

Who's on The Mandatory Construction Task Force?

federation of masters builders logo
fensa logo
cpa logo
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ciob logo
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How Might This Affect You?

builder with hard hart

The details are still undecided regarding what training for firms and individuals will involve, however competence assessments and subsequent inspections are certain to be part of the process.

It's also clear that all firms will have to pay a fee for licencing, with this likely to be proportionate to the size and risk level of a company. This is according to the Licence to Build report released by the FMB last year.

The same report suggests that licenses should apply to all types and sizes of construction work conducted on a paid-for basis. All firms involved in construction work should meet certain pre-requisites in order for the licence to be granted and renewed.

It is thought that once issued, this licence will be valid from a period of three to five years. 

All licenced traders will be listed on a publicly accessible online database that can be used for anyone to search for and find a licensed builder/ tradesperson.