DTI wants to replace failed anti-cowboy initiative with scheme run by trade bodies before general election

The government is to launch a replacement for the quality mark scheme before the general election in a last-ditch attempt to meet its manifesto pledge for an industry accreditation scheme.

The DTI had put a statement on its website announcing that the original quality mark scheme, which is intended to vet contractors for competence and reliability, had closed on 31 December because of a lack of members.

Ministers are holding meetings with industry officials to drive through the new scheme, which would be operated by trade associations on behalf of the government.

A senior Whitehall source said that work on the accreditation scheme was progressing rapidly. He said: “The government wants to do something before the election. We have been working a lot to develop the scheme since September, and we are progressing very well.”

We have been working to develop the scheme since September, and are progressing well

Senior Whitehall source

Under the new strategy, provisionally entitled the quality scheme, trade bodies will apply to become scheme operators. Those that meet requirements will then run the scheme in their sector, providing access to the accreditation for both member and non-member companies.

The source added that the involvement of trade bodies was crucial, as it would promote the scheme’s importance within a sector. The original quality mark relied on individual companies applying directly for membership.

The source said: “The direct use of trade bodies is the correct foundation for the project. If the quality scheme can embrace those companies within a trade body that comply with its standards, it will automatically win more numbers. The old scheme failed partly because it tended to rely on attracting individual companies.”

We have been working to develop the scheme since September, and are progressing well

Senior Whitehall source

The individual accreditation schemes of many trade associations, such as the Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association and the Electrical Contractors Association, already satisfy several of the requirements of the new scheme. This crossover will make it easier and quicker for companies to gain recognition.

The source added that the scheme was allied to other government accreditation schemes. He said: “There is far more joined-up thinking going on this time. The quality scheme and competent person schemes are being brought together on the same principles.”

Can this scheme work better than the Quality Mark? Email building@cmpinformation.com