Industry gives qualified support for proposal to cut membership costs by offering two-for-one deal.
The government is considering reducing the cost of its two construction industry vetting schemes – by merging them.

The two, Constructionline and the quality mark, have been criticised by the industry as being poor value for money. The proposed rethink comes as trade associations met DTI officials this week and told them that both schemes cost too much to join.

The proposal is the outcome of a DTI review of the quality mark. A spokesperson for the department said synergies between the schemes were being assessed, including the idea of a "dual passport" that would give firms a two-for-one deal.

Constructionline director Chris Harris said the DTI was keen to realise the potential benefits of bringing the schemes together. He said: "There are obviously areas where the relationship between the two schemes are quite close, although they do have different client bases."

He added that Constructionline operator Capita would be interested in running a joined-up version of the schemes.

The move received support from trade body the National Federation of Builders.

Barry Stephens, the federation's deputy chief executive, said: "The NFB believes that a single list register that reduces cost must be an ultimate objective."

Ian Davis, director-general of the Federation of Master Builders, gave qualified support. He said:

"I think there is clearly a desire for contractors to stop jumping through two hoops; it is logical for contractors not to have two sets of costs."

Davis noted, however, that such a merger could detract from the possible success of the quality mark initiative, which was launched in two regions over the summer. He said: "We don't want to see the quality mark used as a route to success by Constructionline."

Meanwhile, it is understood that other quality mark pilots are to be launched. Councils in Leicester, Warwick, Dover and Sussex have declared an interest.

The scheme is currently being piloted in Birmingham and Somerset.

  • Constructionline director Chris Harris said higher targets would be set for usage next year, although he declined to reveal what they were. Constructionline now has 10,000 contractors and 1300 clients on its books.