Outgoing chairman sets up overhaul of identification scheme as elections for new chairman loom
Tony Merricks, chairman of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme, has hired an external consultant to review the future of the skills card scheme.

Independent training consultant Bob Billbrough has been asked to recommend the best way to fund and expand the CSCS.

Merricks said Billbrough had already consulted clients and industry figures to find if they thought the current system of administering the CSCS was working.

He said: "We now have 600,000 people signed up to it, so it is important that we decide whether the way it is working is the right way for it to proceed in the future."

He added that topics for review included the the best way of working the "smart card" system, which uses cards linked to a central database to detect fraud.

He said: "Billbrough will report back to the CSCS executive board in February or March with a series of recommendations and it will be up to the board to decide whether to act on them."

Merricks is about to step down from his position as chairman, and the review will feed into any plans drawn up by the new chairman.

We have to decide whether the way it is working is the right way for it to proceed

Tony Merricks, CSCS chairman

George Brumwell, the retiring general secretary of construction union UCATT, is frontrunner to land the job, an election for which is to be held at the end of January. However, Merricks added: "The new chairman would not be duty-bound to implement the consultant's recommendations; it would be up to the executive board to decide."

The CSCS review comes as it has emerged that the hotline to get a card has been jammed with calls.

The Construction Industry Training Board, which administers the scheme, is pleading with workers to apply for cards through its website.

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