FMB claims delay on self-certification scheme will handicap small firms

The government’s failure to approve a competent person scheme to support the Green Deal could lock small and medium-sized builders out of the initiative’s launch phase, the Federation of Master Builders has claimed.

A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) - which regularly approves competent person schemes - confirmed that a scheme governing the Green Deal would not be decided upon until October. The Green Deal is due to launch that month and for the last few months the FMB has been preparing a pitch for a comprehensive competent person scheme that would allow builders to self-certify all building fabric improvements included in the deal.

As it stands, businesses would need to sign up to multiple schemes of this type to do Green Deal work, such as cavity wall and loft insulation.

The FMB claims that having one comprehensive scheme would be cheaper for most builders and allow them to compete with specialists and big firms.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said an October decision would mean the system would not be operable until “months” after the Green Deal was launched. “The starting line for SMEs has been put further down the line, while others are able to get going,” he said.

Berry said that, in meetings with DCLG officials, he had been led to believe a decision would be made sooner to allow people to be ready to start Green Deal work when the scheme launched.

“I don’t think the DCLG and the Department of Energy and Climate Change have always understood each other’s work, which has led to delays in the Green Deal being implemented,” he said.

The communities department said: “We intend to set out more details and invite applications shortly.”