We know FMB members are passionate about quality construction, and that you’ve been backing our campaign for a licensing scheme to help protect the industry and customers from cowboy builders.

Having created the Licence UK Construction Task Force in 2019, the FMB has been working with a range of industry bodies and consumer protection organisations to promote the idea of a licensing scheme for UK builders with stakeholders across Parliament and Government.

Why is licensing construction important?

The fact that any individual can simply set up a construction company and call themselves a builder, no matter their qualifications or competence, seriously undermines the trust consumers can have in the industry as a whole.

Here’s some key facts: 

  • One third (32%) of homeowners are put off doing major home improvement works requiring a builder because they fear hiring a cowboy 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.
  • 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.
  • Over half of people (55%) who commission home-improvement work have had a negative experience with their builder.
  • 78% of consumers also want to see a licensing scheme for construction introduced.
  • Nearly 90% of homeowners believe that the Government should criminalise rogue and incompetent builders.

Bringing the construction licensing debate to Parliament

Through 2021, the Task Force has been working closely with Mark Garnier, the Conservative MP for Wyre Forest, to promote the campaign in Parliament. Mark well understands licensing’s ability to better protect consumers whilst also rewarding good, honest builders.

We supported Mark’s Private Members’ Bill, called the Domestic Building Works (Consumer Protection) Bill, which sought to route out cowboy builders and rogue traders from the UK building industry through advocating for a licensing scheme.

What is a Private Members' Bill?

Private Members’ bills are for MPs who are not in Government, to bring topics and issues to Parliament for debate. As was the case with Mark’s Bill, Private Members’ bill’s almost always fail in creating legal change if they lack Government support. They are, however, a useful way to raise awareness for and attention to campaigns.

What happened to the Domestic Building Works (Consumer Protection) Bill?

While the Bill did not pass, which was somewhat to be expected, it brought the issue into the limelight for Government and politicians. The Government, now more than ever, recognised the issue as a real one and offered to work collaboratively with us to solve it. 

We are taking them up on this offer and are in the process of making representations to the relevant Government Ministers. 

The issue was also brought to the attention of the Labour Party who spoke in support of creating a licensing scheme for UK builders during the debate in parliament.

Watch Mark Garnier presenting his Bill in Parliament. 

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Mark Garnier, Conservative, Wyre Forest
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Chi Onwurah, Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Minister

Raising awareness for construction licensing

The event also brought wider benefits for our licensing campaign by raising awareness through the media. In the lead-up to Mark’s Bill being debated in Parliament, for instance, The Times covered our call for a licensing scheme, providing wider publicity for our campaign and increasing its profile. 

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How to spot a cowboy builder was featured in The Times and explored many of the issues raised in the bill.

What’s next for the licensing campaign?

The debate in Parliament was a fine opportunity to bring the issue to the forefront of politics.The FMB and the Licence UK Construction Task Force will continue to advocate for a licensing scheme for UK builders. We will take the Government up on their offer of working together to resolve the issue of rogue traders and look to persuade them about the need for licensing.

Got a question?

Speak to our policy team on 020 7025 2934 or send us an email.

Email policy team

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