The government intends to sign up "a few thousand" firms to the quality mark by the next general election, says construction minister Nigel Griffiths.
Griffiths said he was in talks with several trade associations over joining the scheme, which is designed to vet contractors in the domestic market. He named the Electrical Contractors Association and the Glass and Glazing Federation as groups with which negotiations were being held.

Only 500 firms have so far signed up.

Griffiths said: "I am determined that by the time of the next election the quality mark will be the nationally recognised mark for consumers using building contractors.

"We are talking to trade associations to see how it will add value to their memberships."

He said that he wanted to see a few thousand members in the scheme. He described that as a "very realistic" number.

He said he wanted more councils to follow the lead set by Manchester and Birmingham and to insist that their contractors signed up to the scheme. He said: "That's good practice."

Griffiths also denied that the quality mark would be merged with Constructionline, the government's online vetting service for contractors and consultants.

He said: "That's not realistic. It's not what any trade organisations have put to me." Griffiths' first promised support for the quality mark in an interview with Building in October.

We are talking to trade associations to see how it will add value to their membership

Nigel Griffiths

The DTI launched a national campaign at the start of the year to increase the number of firms signed up to the scheme.

A DTI spokesperson confirmed that 535 firms had officially signed up to the scheme so far.

He added that 700 further firms were at the assessment stage before signing up and hundreds more had expressed initial interest in joining.

The spokesperson said the DTI was intending to launch a major marketing campaign once enough companies have signed up.

He said: "We have kept it quite low profile and not done much in terms of consumer messages. We have to make sure there is enough of a geographic spread of firms before we push the quality mark out to consumers."

The spokesperson said that there were some particular regions such as the Midlands and the South-west where there were clusters of quality mark firms.