Small, local builders, who are at the heart of our communities, are crying out for the UK Government to introduce measures to curb rogue traders and keep consumers safe.

In the most recent State of Trade Survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), an overwhelming 86% of respondents said now is the time to introduce mandatory licensing for building firms. With a focus on standards, licensing would professionalise the industry, remove rogue traders and help protect consumers.

Skyrocketing inflation and a cost of living crisis raise the risk of greater numbers of cowboy builders looking to take advantage of cash-strapped consumers. Today’s new figures from the FMB also confirm the ongoing rise in the cost of building. 95% of builders are seeing a rise in material costs, with 74% under pressure to pass these increased costs on to the consumer.

The FMB State of Trade Survey, which is released quarterly, is the only survey of its kind to track the experience of small to medium-sized (SME) construction firms in the UK. The latest survey for Q4 2021 found:


  • 86% of FMB members want the UK Government to introduce a mandatory licensing regime to help raise standards in the building industry.


  • The repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) sector is performing most strongly, with 32% of respondents reporting an increased workload this quarter.
  • Housebuilders report a 19% increased workload, and the industrial and commercial sector only an 8% increase.
  • Despite this growth, all sectors have lower rises in workload than in Q3 2021.


  • 43% of builders are struggling to hire carpenters/joiners, down 4% on last quarter.
  • 41% of FMB members are finding it difficult to hire bricklayers, down 4% on last quarter.


  • Nearly all FMB members (95%) reported an increase in material costs in Q4 2021.
  • 91% of respondents expect material costs to increase in Q1 2022.
  • 74% of builders have put up their prices for work.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Today’s FMB State of Trade Survey shows loud and clear that the industry is crying out to be regulated. In what other walk of life could you have so much responsibility regarding the safety of consumers and not need any basic level of competence?”  

Berry continued: “The Government need to listen to industry on this matter. They are the boots on the ground that have seen the shoddy and dangerous work cowboy builders deliver. Rogue traders take work away from quality builders and leave consumers out of pocket. With the cost of living rising the issue will only get worse as consumers are drawn in by unscrupulous builders offering unrealistic timelines and prices.”

Notes to editors

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is the largest trade association in the UK construction industry representing thousands of firms in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Established in 1941 to protect the interests of small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms, the FMB is independent and non-profit making, lobbying for members’ interests at both the national and local level.

The FMB is a source of knowledge, professional advice and support for its members, providing a range of modern and relevant business building services to help them succeed. The FMB is committed to raising quality in the construction industry and offers a free Find a Builder service to consumers.