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BBC Newsnight exposé puts CSCS under spotlight as CITB shuts down training centres

The CITB has suspended applications from firms seeking to become qualified CSCS testing centres in the wake of a BBC exposé.

CITB delivery and customer engagement director Carl Rhymer told Construction News the move was “prudent” as the testing centres come under national scrutiny.

The training body has already shut down five internet testing centres and is investigating another eight as part of an ongoing probe after the BBC revealed construction workers were paying cash to pass CSCS tests.

Mr Rhymer admitted it was possible there could be more than the 13 centres carrying out fraudulent activity, but insisted there was no evidence of the problem being “endemic”.

In response to the Newsnight programme, which showed card training scheme supervisors accepting cash to help candidates pass tests, the CITB revealed that it doubled spending on fraud investigations last year.

One of the centres that featured on the programme, the WEP Testing Centre, was suspended in August and another is now being investigated.

The CITB said it believed card fraud was limited to a “small minority” of the country’s 544 testing centres and that it was working with the Health and Safety Executive and the National Crime Agency to “stamp out the problem”.

Mr Rhymer said the CITB would now take stock of the ongoing fraud investigation, would continue work on installing CCTV cameras at testing centres, and had suspended applications from future testing centres.

Construction News understands the CITB is pushing for arrests in at least two ongoing investigations.

Mr Rhymer said: “What we have to do is get the evidence that would allow us to pursue criminal prosecutions… there may be [other] centres where standards have fallen short; others may have had fraudulent activity.”

The CITB will now liaise with CSCS on whether individuals who have received cards should be asked to retake their examinations.

Earlier, the CITB issued a statement in which Mr Rhymer said: “We actively work with CSCS to revoke fraudulent cards wherever they are found, which has in some cases helped trigger investigations into suspect testing centres.

“In addition, we are accelerating our plans to install mandatory CCTV in all testing centres to monitor footage for signs of fraudulent activity, and have launched a series of spot-checks on test centres to act as a deterrent.”

CSCS fraud has been a thorn in the side for the industry, as reported by Construction News over the past decade.

In 2004, Construction News reported that the Metropolitan Police had launched an investigation after forged CSCS cards were found on sites.

More recently, arrests were made in Ilford and Seven Kings, London, after two men were accused of fraud relating to the CITB’s health, safety and environment test and CSCS cards.

Responses to a BBC freedom of information request showed that reports of card fraud were rising. There were 96 reports in 2012, 264 in 2013 and 311 last year, it said.

BSRIA chief executive Julia Evans said: “Construction is the UK’s most dangerous employment sector and in the past five years alone, 221 workers have died.

“As an industry, we’ve set our stall on the CSCS card being the minimum benchmark to accept workers on to our sites. This scheme has to be trusted.

“BSRIA’s members demand best practice for the industry where its workforce must be safe. This exposure is clearly unacceptable.”

Want more?

Read CSCS chief executive Graham Wren’s column in defence of CSCS cards.


The Construction Leadership Council agreed in January that clients and contractors should only accept card schemes carrying the Construction Skills Certification Scheme logo.

CSCS cards were mandatory for workers at all contractors affiliated with the now-defunct UK Contractors Group.

In response to the BBC programme, CSCS said it was “working closely with awarding organisations… to identify and take action against those attempting to deceive construction employers”.

It added: “CSCS is confident the vast majority of cards issued are a result of obtaining a qualification legitimately.

“In cases where the awarding organisations inform CSCS that a card was obtained fraudulently, the card is cancelled immediately and action taken against individuals and organisations attempting to deceive construction employers.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • I have CSCS CPCS etc cards for over 20 years and to be quite frank the CITB realy should get their own house in order 1st?
    e.g. when I got my 1st card we were told that any other qualifications we achieved would be added to the same card "RUBBISH" I have several various cards and I have to renew them individually also if one expires after 2 years of taking my test I have to resit it in order to renew my cards. Also in the beginning I waited nearly 2 years to get my 1st card and am constantly being informed by others that I work with that they also are waiting anextremely long times for their cards so it doesn't surprise me that there is fraud around. My personal opinion is it's jobs for the boys. as previously stated get their own house in order 1st.

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  • I’ve had a CSCS Card since they were first introduced. Last year I renewed my Black Card Contracts Manager which, I’m told, is equivalent to an NVQ7 in HS&E. To do that took me 10 minutes sat in front of the computer at the Test Centre.

    Buying the up-to-date guide book, reading it and making sure you know the answers is surely cheaper than bribing someone to give a pass on it!

    While I was in there doing my last test I saw youngsters sat struggling for the full 45 minutes and still not completing their far simpler and less demanding tests. Without their card they are unlikely to have enough knowledge and sense to keep themselves safe on a site!

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  • I hold a skilled worker blue card, a gold supervision/apprenticeship served card and a white assessors card. All require me to retake the touch screen test on a frequent basis. I assess NVQ L2 and L3 qualifications which CSCS recognise to gain their cards, but they don't accept my L3 assessor qualification, hence CSCS recently created a CRO White card to accommodate assessors who need to access candidates on site. They won't acknowledge this on my supervision gold card. Are CSCS working in the interest of H&S or keeping the cash flow healthy? To add fuel to the fire....when did I last have my cards checked? Unless site photocopiers are ultra high tech and are checking them, then never! Normally it's copied to tick a H&S policies of the main contractor, and filed. It doesn't prove H&S awareness and isn't representative of competency.

    CSCS get your house in order.

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