A Welsh Conservative Assembly Member has today called for the introduction of a licensing scheme for the UK construction industry in order to eradicate substandard practices.
David Melding AM – the Shadow Minister for Housing – argued that the construction sector is ‘burdened’ with rogue operators who damage the industry’s image, leaving clients with no avenue for redress for substandard practices that are often unsafe.
He said that a licensing scheme would be a ‘huge advance’ for the sector, and would give the professional and competent firms a fair playing field on which to operate.
The calls were made following a briefing session with sector stakeholders in which the practicalities of how such a scheme could operate were laid out. According to a report by the Federation of Master Builders who have been leading the campaign on this issue, the introduction of such a scheme would ‘have the potential to drive a transformation in culture and professionalism across the industry’.
The Welsh Conservatives had previously pledged to introduce such a scheme following the launch of their housing strategy – Housing a Nation – at the end of last year. However, whilst it was previously thought that such a scheme would need to be introduced with the UK Government, it is now clear that a start could be made in Wales. While this would be a voluntary scheme, it could be tied to public sector procurement practices.
Talking about the scheme, the South Wales Central AM said:
"Unlike the gas and electrical trades, anyone in the UK can set themselves up as a builder or tradesperson so it’s no surprise that we have cowboy builders operating within the sector.
“A licensing scheme would provide customers with the assurances that the person they are paying is doing a job to a high standard with guarantees for its quality. I think that should be a basic requirement for anyone in the building trade.
“Whilst a UK wide scheme would be preferable, I believe that in Wales we have the tools to get started.
“It’s a huge burden for the sector, and in the current housing climate its an issue that we as policy makers should be looking to fix sooner rather than later”.