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Sort out industry's quality schemes

AGENDA - COMMENT

AFTER several years of trying, the Government finally seems to have come up with a well thought-out scheme to help home owners find reputable builders.

It has taken two attempts to get it right, but ? fingers crossed ? the TrustMark quality scheme, launched to the public this week, stands a real chance of repairing the industry's tarnished reputation.

Because, whether it is fair or not, the fact remains that a story like the one splashed across the front of the Northern Echo last week does untold damage to the entire construction industry.

Who is not appalled and spurred to action by the horrific tale of a partially sighted 90-year-old woman pensioner being charged £6,340 for a two-minute job to replace a roof tile?

TrustMark offers hope to put paid to this sort of rip-off. But when supporting the scheme, it is important to underline that TrustMark alone will not eradicate the crooks who prey on the weak.

TrustMark simply gives home owners a choice ? a choice between giving work to a quality assured and warranty-backed firms or opting for cowboys.

The point is that the onus now lies firmly with the public to take responsibility and make an informed decision about the firms they engage.

In this respect TrustMark is a big step forward for everybody working across the construction industry.

On a broader level, the time has come for the Government now to turn its attention to the industry's own quality assurance schemes.

The past few years have seen registration schemes spring up everywhere, promising clients low-cost access to quality contracting firms.

Clients are left with a confusing alphabet soup of schemes to use while contractors are wasting time and money meeting quality standards with precious lit tle work to show for it.

As the industry's major client, the Government must take a real lead and opt for a single scheme.

The Constructionline registration scheme, which has been promoted by some departments, has failed to gain widespread support, while perfectly workable schemes, like CAPS, developed for the NHS, go largely ignored by clients.

If clients do not use such schemes they, like the public, will get what they deserve.