Housing department finally buckles under pressure to delay new certification rules

Plans to make new construction products illegal to sell on the UK market unless they have been tested in this country have been pushed back by two and a half years.

The post-Brexit UKCA marking system will not be required for construction products until 30 June 2025, the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has said.

The announcement finally provides firms with clarity over the new rules just two weeks before they were due to come into force. The new certification system, which replaces the existing Europe-wide CE mark which has been used since the 1980s, was due to become mandatory on 1 January 2023.

ce mark

The government has been under significant pressure from industry trade bodies to push back the deadline amid fears that it could lead to materials becoming illegal in the UK due to a severe shortage of testing capacity.

Despite the new system’s requirement for UK testing, there are currently limited or non-existent testing facilities in this country for several key products including glass, sealants and radiators.

The rules had been relaxed in June to allow existing products to carry over their CE certification into the new year.

But this did not apply to new products or those which are upgraded, a move which Construction Products Association chief executive Peter Caplehorn said in September could lead to a “gradual attrition” for the industry next year as products become illegal on the market.

Today’s announcement is the second full delay for the UKCA system for construction products, which was originally scheduled to come into force on 1 January 2022 before being pushed back by 12 months due to the lack of UK testing centres.

It also follows confusion over last month’s decision by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to extend the use of CE marks for other product sectors until 1 January 2025. 

DLUHC, which is responsible for construction products, did not confirm its own delay and said it was taking its own approach. 

Caplehorn said today’s announcement avoided a “potentially catastrophic situation” but warned there were still many “critical” issues which have been left unresolved.

Builders Merchants Federation chief executive John Newcomb said the move was a “welcome, overdue” decision which would avoid certain products becoming illegal to sell in the UK.

“It has been clear for many months that more time was required for companies to find qualified people to conduct UKCA tests and to prepare the necessary documents and packaging for their goods.”

Industry representatives have criticised the government’s approach to implementing the UKCA mark in recent weeks, with Building Services Research and Information Association technical director Tom Garrigan telling Building last month that there did not seem to be “any sort of clear communication” between BEIS and DLUHC.

There has also been division within the Brexit-supporting wing of the Conservative party over the policy. Former chief Brexit negotiator David Frost said in November that there “is no reason at all, and never has been, why we should not continue to accept EU-approved good in most areas for a long time to come”.

CPA response in full:

“The CPA welcomes the statement from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announcing the delay in implementation of the UKCA Mark for construction products.

“We have been working for some time to bring about certainty for the marketplace and clarity involving the many interrelated issues that surround the shift to UKCA Marking.  We are pleased to have avoided the potentially catastrophic situation that was unfolding. Still, while this avoids a potential cliff edge there are many business-critical problems that need to be resolved.

 “We are keen to continue engaging closely with government and industry to resolve these as quickly as possible, particularly the practical and commercial factors that are needed to ensure smooth market conditions.  Until then, manufacturers can now get back to supporting the UK construction industry and the urgent need to grow the economy.” – CPA chief executive Peter Caplehorn