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Closed petition Introduce statutory licensing and regulation of builders

There are few options for people to seek redress for poor workmanship by builders and it is too easy for builders to avoid liabilities by liquidating one company and starting another. An increase in people claiming to be competent builders with the only intention to con families out of their money.

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Current protection for consumers are inadequate, leaving victims who have been scammed or left with poor or dangerous workmanship at the hands of rogue builders unprotected. It's too easy for a rogue builder to prey on homeowners and the few avenues of redress are costly for victims.

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Government responded

This response was given on 10 October 2023

The Government has strengthened consumer protection through the Consumer Rights Act. Currently, the Government does not support a building licencing scheme, but keeps this policy under regular review.

The Government is committed to ensuring that there are high standards in the construction industry. Consumers should have confidence that the work they commission will be undertaken competently and will comply with Building Regulations to ensure safety. We are also committed to ensuring that there are high standards of consumer protection and redress, for those who pay for work that falls short of acceptable standards of quality and safety.

The construction industry makes a significant contribution to the UK economy. In 2021, it had a turnover of £439 billion, accounting for nearly 9% of the economy, and employed 2.2 million people in about 430,000 firms, with an additional 700,000 self-employed workers.

The domestic repair, maintenance and improvement sector is a vital part of the industry, employing around 60% of the contracting workforce, around 1.5m people. The small firms and tradespeople who make up this sector deliver essential work to people right across the country. However, it is also a part of the industry where genuine concerns about consumer protection exist.

There are some incompetent or dishonest firms and individuals who exploit consumers, undertake defective work or overcharge for the services that they deliver. The Government is committed to working with the industry and Local Authority Trading Standards to improve standards of competence and consumer protection, and to take action against rogue builders.

The Government has also taken action to strengthen consumer rights. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 sets out the standards that consumers can expect when a trader supplies goods and services, including building work, and remedies if those rights are breached. Under the Act, traders are required to carry out a service with reasonable care and skill, and, where the timeframe is not specified in the contract, within a reasonable timeframe. Where a trader fails to meet the standards required by the CRA for the supply of a service, or if the service does not conform to the contract, there is likely to be a breach of contract and the consumer is entitled to ask for a repeat performance of the service or a price reduction. If a trader and a consumer cannot agree to a remedy, the consumer can pursue a claim against the trader in the courts. The small claims procedure provides the means to pursue a claim for up to £10,000, at a modest cost and without the need for a solicitor. Consumers have up to six years to bring a claim against a trader for breach of contract.

The Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 (www.citizensadvice.org.uk/) offers free advice to consumers on their rights, how to take complaints forward and options for redress. The service can also refer on complaints to Trading Standards for appropriate enforcement action.

By funding National Trading Standards established in 2012, and Trading Standards Scotland formed in 2014, the Government has empowered cross-regional prosecutions against rogue traders. Both organisations target issues most detrimental to consumers and those that pose the greatest risk to vulnerable community members.

Having assessed the evidence about the effectiveness of licencing schemes in other countries, the Government is not convinced that the introduction of a licensing scheme in such a large and varied sector would be practical or cost-effective. However, it continues to review the available evidence, and remains in dialogue with industry and consumer representatives about this issue.

Department for Business and Trade

Government policy on tackling rogue builders debated by MPs

On Tuesday 13 June, Mark Garnier MP led a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament on Government policy on tackling rogue builders.
- Watch the debate
- Read a transcript of the debate

During the debate MPs discussed the options for recourse available when building work falls short of acceptable standards of quality and safety, and how these could be improved.

What are Westminster Hall debates?

Westminster Hall is the second Chamber of the House of Commons.

Westminster Hall debates give MPs an opportunity to raise local or national issues and receive a response from a government minister. Any MP can take part in a Westminster Hall debate.

Debates in Westminster Hall take place on ‘general debate' motions expressed in neutral terms. These motions are worded ‘That this House has considered [a specific matter]'.

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