Tougher Criteria Trustmark to be Relaunched

The TrustMark builder and trader vetting scheme is to be relaunched in the coming months with new tougher standards to increase consumer protection, the government announced this week as part of the Construction Industrial Strategy.

The relaunch falls under the strategy’s “image of the industry” theme, which commits industry and government to “a coordinated approach to health and safety and improving performance in the domestic repair and maintenance market.”

Liz Male, chairman of TrustMark and a member of the newly-formed Construction Leadership Council, welcomed the endorsement and the strategy’s engagement with the domestic sector.

“It’s the first time the domestic RMI sector has featured in a government strategy, but it’s a very economically active sector, worth £27bn a year so it’s important economically. The government knew it had to include us in the strategy for that reason.

The domestic sector is the part where the public touches construction, and it affects whether they’re prepared to encourage a son or daughter into the industry.”

The 30-plus scheme operators that make up the TrustMark brand operate to “core standards” backed by the government and first put together in 2005. New tougher standards are currently being agreed, which Male said would include new requirements on vetting and monitoring; trading records; records of directors; site inspections; and requirements to promote TrustMark.

There will also be new requirements on dispute resolution, in line with a new EU directive, and measures to align the scheme with the new Consumer Rights Bill.

“The majority of the changes are things the better scheme operators have been doing for a while, and now the other scheme operators will have to come up to scratch,” Male said.

Once the new core standards are agreed, the scheme will be “relaunched”. “There will be a big marketing push to let people know that the standards have changed.”

TrustMark currently has around 14,500 registered businesses, with some being registered under more than trade giving a total of 23,000 trades represented nationally.

Graham Watts, chief executive of the Construction Industry Council, welcomed the decision from BIS to back TrustMark, but pointed out that it only covered a small proportion of the traders offering building and related services to the public, and that the Construction Industry Strategy was not therefore fully embracing the issue.

He said: “At the Government Construction Summit [where the strategy was launched] there were references to the long tail of white van SMEs, and a large proportion of that market isn’t part of the professional industry – they’re not properly qualified, they don’t train apprentices. I don’t know how the Construction Leadership Council can make an impact on that sector.

“It’s good to have confidence expressed in TrustMark, but to be truly effective it would have to register tens of thousands more building companies – there are a great mass of businesses out there that are part of the image problem but not covered by the official structure of this council.”

Watts suggested that ONS figures indicate there are up to 400,000 businesses in the construction sector in total.

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