The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has championed higher levels of quality and professionalism in the construction industry ever since it was founded in 1941. Often, the FMB has pushed for higher standards through raising the bar on skills and training. However, we now believe that the time has come to countenance more fundamental reform of the industry with a view to driving up standards across the board, and finally driving out the incompetent and unprofessional elements from our industry. This comes in the wake of ongoing concerns about the prevalence of rogue and incompetent builders, and wider concerns about standards, regulation and compliance within the industry.
Licence to build
The FMB’s report, ‘Licence to build: a pathway to licencing UK construction (PDF, 1.9MB)’, delivered in collaboration with researchers Pye Tait, sets out the case for a licensing system for UK construction and outlines how such a scheme might work to increase quality and standards across the whole industry.
At the heart of this problem is that in the UK anyone can set themselves up as a builder and offer their services to the public. This provides scope for rogue and incompetent outfits to continue to operate, while placing downward pressure on standards as those who cut corners continuously undercut professional and competent firms.
That rogue builders continue to operate unchecked is exacerbating and perpetuating a very negative image for construction and all those who work in the industry. That small building firms make up 90% of the construction industry and dominate the domestic sector means that they act as the ‘shopfront’ for the whole industry. Negative perceptions of construction make tackling the industry’s skills crisis more difficult, as prospective recruits are discouraged from pursuing a career in construction.
This research drew on the knowledge and understanding of a range of stakeholders with many years of experience in the industry and found widespread support for the idea of licensing system, including the support of nearly 80% of SME construction firms. Based on this evidence, it then sets out how such a system could be made to work building on existing processes and industry frameworks. This is no less than a plan for a fundamental overhaul of the industry designed to propel it into the 21st Century, laying the foundations to drive-up quality and innovation across the board.
Brian Berry, FMB Chief Executive with Richard Harrington MP
Raising the bar
The FMB’s Agenda, ‘Raising the bar: A post-Grenfell Agenda for quality and professionalism in construction (PDF, 210KB)’ sets out a three-point plan for transforming the industry. The first recommendation is for Government to look more closely at introducing a mandatory licensing scheme for all construction companies. The second is legally requiring a warranty for all building work that requires Building Control approval. And finally, developing a ‘general builder’ qualification to provide a solid foundation for anyone looking to set up their own company, giving training in technical and business skills. Put together, these three recommendations could transform our industry by driving up quality and professionalism across the board, and offering much greater protection to consumers and all those working within the built environment sector. Implementing this Agenda would also dramatically improve the image of the industry, helping to boost consumer confidence and attract new recruits, and act as a means of driving up skill levels and productivity to create an industry able and ready to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.
Brian Berry, FMB Chief Executive with John Healey MP