A DETR spokesman said the talks were run-of-the-mill, and would deal mostly with operational matters. He said: "It's not specifically about funding." The spokesman said that ideas to make the scheme more attractive included creating different levels of accreditation. One idea that has been mooted is to create gold, silver and bronze standards of entry, which might broaden the appeal of the scheme for smaller companies unsure whether they would qualify for it in its current form. Firms that clear other hurdles, such as site tests, could receive extra star ratings in the database.
A Constructionline spokesman said the body was consulting with users and trade associations over new ideas for the scheme. Last month, the number of firms registered stood at 10,000 – 15,000 short of this year's target for approved suppliers.
Concern has centred specifically on the take-up among government clients. Chris Leggett, chief executive of the service, said last month that Constructionline was working with individual government departments to ascertain their needs.
We are consulting with users and trade associations over new ideas for the scheme
It has also held talks with officials from the Office of Government Commerce to drum up more support in central and local government.
Specialist Engineering Contractors' Group chief executive Rudi Klein said worries still existed over the scheme. He said: "Unless there is some real progress in take-up in the public sector it cannot be viable." Klein added that he still hoped that the scheme would succeed.
National Specialist Contractors' Council chief executive Grenville Weltch, who complained to Constructionline about its database last year, said his members were split on the benefits of the system.