Contractors told ministers won’t budge again on new regulatory regime date

The government has warned firms they have less than three months to get ready for the new way thousands of products used in construction are given the green light so they can be used on UK sites.

The UKCA system will come into force on 1 January next year and will require all new or updated construction products to be tested in UK facilities in order to be legally sold on the UK market.

The new mark will replace the current CE mark, introduced in 1985, despite worries new products will not be ready in time come the beginning of next year.

Testing shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Testing capacity is stretched for several products such as glass and radiators

A plan to introduce the new mark at the start of this year was pushed back 12 months and over the summer the government announced it was relaxing the certification scheme to allow existing products which have been certified with the current CE mark to swap over to the UKCA mark.

But this will not apply to new products or those which undergo changes, which is a regular process and could put particular pressure on materials which are imported from overseas.

A government spokesperson said it would not budge on the date again and added: “The UK now has its own regulatory goods regime, which gives us the opportunity to make our regulations work in the best interests of consumers and businesses.

“We have introduced the UK marking to replace CE marking for the GB market, which businesses should be prepared to adopt before 1 January 2023.”

There is limited or non-existent testing capacity in this country for several key products needed to complete buildings, including glass, sealants and radiators.

One contracting boss told Building the deadline would need to go out again: “They will have to extend it again. There is not enough testing capacity here.

“I struggle to find anyone who thinks this is a great idea. Overseas manufacturers are going to have to make the same product differently because of our plan to have separate British standards. It will just cost more.” He added: “We’re lobbying to keep it as it is.” 

Another told Building: “Let’s not change things that don’t need changing. I’m worried this is a government that is driven by Brexit and ideology. There are other priorities we have like growth. Government has to make sure it puts the enablers in place for growth and doesn’t get in the way.”

Last month, Construction Products Association chief executive Peter Caplehorn told Building the concerns it had raised previously had not gone away.

“We haven’t addressed the fundamental problem, the structural problem, which is the capacity of the testing and certification sector,” he said. “We still have a problem with several products having nowhere to test in the UK.”

“As each product is on a different timescale with regard to either its upgrading and changes as products are developed, you don’t get all products affected in one go.

“What you get is they will be amended or revised, and at that point they then will be affected by a need to move to a CA mark and if they don’t have the testing and certification available in the UK they’ll drop off the market. The timing will be completely random.”