The launch of the government's anti-cowboy quality mark will be delayed until after the general election.
The scheme was due to get off the ground next month but has been postponed because it could be deemed a political initiative in the run-up to the general election, expected in June, and would therefore fall foul of poll regulations, say government sources.

A DETR spokesperson said: "We are considering whether there is a need to amend the launch date of the quality mark scheme in light of the change of timing of the local elections and will make an announcement as soon as is practicable." Pilots schemes were due to have been launched in Birmingham and Somerset on 22 May. Local elections, with a general election likely to be held on the same day, are now scheduled for 7 June.

Earlier this year industry members expressed fears that the quality mark scheme might have to be postponed yet again because of the pending election.

The scheme got off to a slow start after firms insisted that they already had enough work, but take-up improved after firms were offered a £350 discount on the registration fee. Registration has also been made easier through co-operation with trade associations.

About 275 firms are undergoing assessment and nine firms have become fully registered members.