Improving the image of building industry is essential

The Government is right to identify the need to improve the image of the building industry, to help drive up standards and improve consumer protection, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in response to yesterday’s new industrial strategy Construction 2025.

Brian Berry, the Chief Executive of the FMB, said:

“For too long the image of the building industry has been blighted by the unscrupulous practices of those operating in the informal economy. Today’s announcement to expand the TrustMark scheme for tradespeople and to introduce new standards is a welcome step to help drive out the rogue traders. The challenge going forward both for government and the building industry as a whole will be to ensure that consumers are made aware of the benefits of only using TrustMark-accredited tradespeople.”

Berry continued:

“The Government’s commitment to do much more to promote the range of access to finance products available to construction SMEs is also welcome, but it is disappointing there are not additional commitments to stop banks discriminating against construction firms. Construction SMEs are more likely to be turned down for an overdraft or loan than SMEs in other sectors. The banks must take a long hard look at their lending policies to viable construction firms, and stop restricting growth in the industry.”

Berry continued:

“It is good to see a number of commitments to help SMEs take advantage of public-sector work opportunities. In a recent FMB survey, 69 percent of our members reported finding it ‘quite difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to find out about public-sector contracts. The FMB has been calling for more comprehensive use of regional online portals to advertise opportunities and we would welcome local construction pipelines to improve the visibility of public and private-sector opportunities for SMEs. We have also been calling for the adoption of the standardised PAS 91 pre-qualification questionnaire by all public-sector clients. The FMB will continue to work with central government and the Local Government Association to help deliver these commitments and improve the public procurement process for construction SMEs.”

Berry concluded:

“The Government’s industrial strategy can help the industry recover from recession, but only if the commitments outlined are implemented without delay. Given that more than 99 percent of the building industry’s 280,000 firms are SMEs it is essential their concerns are addressed by the newly established Construction Leadership Council to help deliver significant growth in the economy.”