Housing association says new rules could hike costs of jobs


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One of the country’s largest housing associations has said it is worried that introducing competency tests in the industry will lead to shortages among the trades carrying out work on sites.

Recent recommendations made by the Competency Steering Group (CSG) in its report Raising the Bar include calling for the government to mandate individuals working on high-risk residential buildings to be registered or certified by a recognised professional or certified body.

James Carpenter, head of fire safety at L&Q, said it welcomed the proposals because it was “important to increase the competency of individuals working on such buildings” and that it was right “to create culture change in the building and increase confidence in the construction sector”.

But he warned: “We think it is significant that the CSG have not yet been able to map all ‘installer’ trades – they are many and diverse. We are concerned that there are not enough people out there to do the work and there will be labour shortages as the new competence requirements are introduced which in turn will drive up costs.

“Any new regime must consider the labour market implications of proposed competence requirements and work with industry closely on transition plans.”

He added that the firm wanted the new initiative to work but warned: “We are clear that it must be based on sound evidence and the potential cost and labour implications must be fully considered before implementation.”

The CSG’s 149-page report, produced as part of the industry’s response to Dame Judith Hackitt’s post-Grenfell review of building regulations and safety, spelled out 67 recommendations, including calling on the government take the “lead and require that any company or individual working on government construction projects must meet the competence frameworks set out within this report”.