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Builders licensing bill falls as government rejects Garnier scheme

Photo: Nigel Spooner | Dreamstime.com

The Private Member’s Bill to create a compulsory licence scheme for the building trade has been withdrawn.

MP Mark Garnier, who has been calling for builders to be licensed, saw his Domestic Building Works (Consumer Protection) Bill fail when construction minister Lee Rowley refused government support.

Holding out an olive branch to the industry, Rowley commented: “Although we as a government are not minded to support the Bill at this time, we are very keen to continue to discuss this, because we accept that there is an issue. The question is whether a licensing scheme is proportionate to the problem at this time.”

He added that the government had recently consulted on proposals for a mandatory alternative disputes resolution scheme in the home improvement sector, and said “there will be more information on that in due course”.

“It simply can’t be right in a modern economy that anyone can call themselves a builder without any form of licensing or registration to check they are competent.”

Brian Berry, Federation of Master Builders

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB), which has been leading the campaign for a licensing scheme, expressed its disappointment at not getting government backing.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “While the government’s failure to back the Domestic Building Works (Consumer Protection) Bill is disappointing, its commitment to work with stakeholders and industry and find a solution to stamp out cowboy builders is at least welcome news.”

He added: “With almost one third of homeowners having been put off undertaking major home improvement works due to the fear of hiring a dodgy builder, it’s clear we need to licence UK construction companies. It simply can’t be right in a modern economy that anyone can call themselves a builder without any form of licensing or registration to check they are competent. This is not only a serious question of consumer protection, but also one of promoting economic growth in the building industry.

“77% of small, local construction firms back the principle of a licensing scheme so it is encouraging that many Conservative and Labour MPs are joining forces in support of tidying up the building industry. A licence to build would protect not only consumers, but also quality builders from being undercut by unscrupulous and, all too often, dangerous cowboy builders.”

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