Local authorities call for cost of vetting service to be spread to clients and for IT infrastructure to be upgraded.
CLIENTS COULD SOON BE sharing the cost of running Constructionline, the government's troubled contractor vetting service, if a proposal from the Local Government Taskforce is implemented.

The cost of running the scheme is carried solely by the contractors that register with it. However, a report compiled by the taskforce, which is an umbrella group for councils, recommends an examination of "the implications of costs being shared between contractors and clients".

The report also concludes that the technology behind Constructionline must improve if it is to attract more users.

In particular, it criticises the speed and efficacy of access to the data contained on Constructionline computers. According to the report, the success of the scheme is being hampered by the following problems:

  • Poor marketing
  • Lack of compatibility with client procurement systems
  • Local authorities' reluctance to abandon their in-house procurement systems
  • Failure by clients and registered firms to provide updated information
  • Cultural barriers to the scheme within the construction industry.

The report recommends that pilot projects should be launched to investigate any problems with existing client procurement systems.

It also suggests that Capita, which operates the scheme in tandem with the DTI, should give firms 30 days' written notice of the need to update information.

It adds that the clarity of health and safety information needs to be improved by using the council-run Contractors' Health and Safety Scheme.

Constructionline director Chris Harriss was encouraged by the findings of the report and promised to continue to work closely with the construction industry and its clients to ensure the service continued to evolve. He said: "We have made good progress over the past 12 months, but there is still more ground to cover."