Gordon Brown keen to overhaul stalled anti-cowboy builder initiative as Labour prepares for next election
Chancellor Gordon Brown is set to give the go-ahead for an overhaul of the Quality Mark, its anti-cowboy builder initiative.

The move comes as it has emerged that the government has called in an external consultant to address industry concerns over the scheme, which was introduced in June 2001, and to review its future.

A senior Whitehall source said this week that proposals for a streamlined version of the scheme were with Treasury officials as part of the government's spending review.

The source said that changes would include alterations to the six-year warranty scheme, which contractors are obliged to take up under the Quality Mark. He said: "We have sent proposals to the Treasury for a reduction in the length of time that the contractors have to provide guarantees [warranties]."

Contractors object to the idea of a warranty because they already belong to warranty schemes through trade bodies.

The source said he expected that the length of the warranty would be reduced from six to three years.

The Treasury will also reassess how the scheme is to be paid for: contractors are currently expected to pay a percentage of annual turnover to become eligible to join the Quality Mark.

The DTI has brought in a business consultant, Dan Bernard, to focus on the future of the Quality Mark initiative

DTI spokesperson

The Whitehall source noted that the government aimed to bring in changes in the Quality Mark, rather than drop it, as it was a Labour party election manifesto commitment.

The source said this was why Brown had taken such an interest in the scheme. He said: "The Treasury is keen to sort out Quality Mark within the spending review. Nigel Griffiths [the construction minister] has proposed a model for a way forward and it looks like this will be implemented."

The DTI has appointed an independent consultant, Dan Bernard, to address concerns over the project.

A DTI spokesperson said: "The DTI has brought in a business consultant to focus on the future of QM. Dan Bernard has extensive experience in the retail sector, at board level, in strategy formulation and in management of major business change."

Bernard has worked across the retail sector and was also formerly managing director at B&Q Supercentres.

The DTI spokesperson said that the options for the scheme are currently being developed and are being discussed with the industry.