86% of builders call for industry to be licensed

Small, local builders are crying out for the UK Government to introduce measures to curb rogue traders and keep consumers safe.

In the most recent State of Trade Survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), an overwhelming 86% of respondents said now is the time to introduce mandatory licensing for building firms. With a focus on standards, licensing would professionalise the industry, remove rogue traders and help protect consumers.

Skyrocketing inflation and a cost of living crisis raise the risk of greater numbers of cowboy builders looking to take advantage of cash-strapped consumers. Today’s new figures from the FMB also confirm the ongoing rise in the cost of building. 95% of builders are seeing a rise in material costs, with 74% under pressure to pass these increased costs on to the consumer.

The FMB State of Trade Survey, which is released quarterly, is the only survey of its kind to track the experience of small to medium-sized (SME) construction firms in the UK. The latest survey for Q4 2021 found:

Licensing

  • 86% of FMB members want the UK Government to introduce a mandatory licensing regime to help raise standards in the building industry.

Workload

  • The repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) sector is performing most strongly, with 32% of respondents reporting an increased workload this quarter.
  • Housebuilders report a 19% increased workload, and the industrial and commercial sector only an 8% increase.
  • Despite this growth, all sectors have lower rises in workload than in Q3 2021.

Skills

  • 43% of builders are struggling to hire carpenters/joiners, down 4% on last quarter.
  • 41% of FMB members are finding it difficult to hire bricklayers, down 4% on last quarter.

Prices

  • Nearly all FMB members (95%) reported an increase in material costs in Q4 2021.
  • 91% of respondents expect material costs to increase in Q1 2022.
  • 74% of builders have put up their prices for work.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Today’s FMB State of Trade Survey shows loud and clear that the industry is crying out to be regulated. In what other walk of life could you have so much responsibility regarding the safety of consumers and not need any basic level of competence?

“The Government need to listen to industry on this matter. They are the boots on the ground that have seen the shoddy and dangerous work cowboy builders deliver. Rogue traders take work away from quality builders and leave consumers out of pocket. With the cost of living rising the issue will only get worse as consumers are drawn in by unscrupulous builders offering unrealistic timelines and prices.”