Construction firms have come out in support of controversial legislation banning the sale of scrap metal for cash.
From the start of December changes to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act will force scrap yards across the UK to pay for metals by cheque or electronic transfer, no cash payments will be allowed.
It’s hoped the legislation will stem the rising tide of metal thefts from construction sites and other sources, which have doubled in number since 2007 with around a thousand crimes reported each week in the UK.
“Materials theft is a major issue for construction and this ban will make it much harder for thieves who will be forced to trade in the black economy,” said Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders. “As an organisation we are concerned about any form of cash payment. Legitimate metals recycling businesses should have nothing to worry about, if anything it should ensure a level playing field.”
“Banning cash for scrap metal payments is a way of dealing with the problem of theft head on, rather than, for example, forcing firms to upgrade their security measures, which thieves can still find ways of getting around,” added Bernard Keogh, managing director of Arque Construction. “If thieves can no longer sell scrap metal without going to the black market then there’s a good chance it will deter them as well as prevent others from trying it.”
The law has caused a rift in the scrap industry with several metals recyclers planning to risk legal action by continuing to trade scrap for cash in the hope of securing an injunction against the ban. Likewise, firms that accept the legislation fear they may lose customers wanting cash-in-hand payments.
The law will also oblige customers to provide both photographic identification and proof of address every time they trade at a metals recycler. “It’s unfortunate that builders are going to suffer this extra burden of paperwork, but it can only be a good thing if it helps stamp out rogue businesses,” said Berry.