A Private Member’s Bill calling for the mandatory licensing of construction companies will help protect consumers and reputable builders, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
The Bill, introduced by the Conservative MP Mark Garnier, is being debated in Parliament on 19 November and will allow MPs to debate proposals to outlaw cowboy builders and provide compensation for their victims.
Currently, anyone can call themselves a builder without having to demonstrate any training, qualifications or experience. The only protection available to consumers who have fallen foul of shoddy building work is contract law, which is so complex and expensive that it is out of reach of most consumers.
The Bill seeks to give consumers confidence that they are choosing a licensed builder and provide a simple complaints system where work has been sub-standard. If complaints are upheld, the consumer may be entitled to compensation, and offenders face having licences taken away. It would also protect reputable builders from being undercut by cowboy builders, who harm the reputation of the industry and put consumers off commissioning building work.
Mark Garnier MP said: “Cowboy builders ruin the lives of their victims and tarnish the reputation of the vast majority of builders who are decent, hard-working people. This Bill will help to end this scourge once and for all.”
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB said: “Licenses for the building trade are long overdue and have widespread support in the industry. They will protect consumers, enhance the reputation of the industry, and provide a significant boost to the economy. Through our Licencing Construction Task Force, supported by over 40 organisations, the FMB has been advocating for such a licensing scheme to be introduced as a means to drive up standards in the building industry. A licence for building companies would help ensure professionalism within the builing industry; reduce health and safety infringements; and counter high levels of consumer detriment in the market.”
In 2018, the FMB released its Licence to Build Report, which found the following:
- One third (32%) of homeowners are put off doing major home improvement works requiring a builder because they fear hiring a dodgy builder. This means that the UK economy could be missing out on £10 billion of construction activity per year because of anxiety over rogue building firms.
- Over half of people (55%) who commission home improvement work have had a negative experience with their builder.
- 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.
- 78% of consumers also want to see a licensing scheme for construction introduced and nearly 90% of homeowners believe that the Government should criminalise rogue and incompetent builders.