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TrustMark kick-starts with £2m cash for ads

NEWS - Take-up of anti-cowboy scheme will be promoted through Yellow Pages and leaflets

THE GOVERNMENT has given £2 million to kick-start the successor to its ill-fated Quality Mark scheme to combat cowboy builders.

Consultant Dan Bernard, the acting chair of the TrustMark initiative, launched last week by construction minister Alun Michael, said the cash would be spent on advertisements in the Yellow Pages and leaflets at builders'merchant Wolseley.

The Department of Trade and Industry spent more than £10 million on the Quality Mark scheme, which was closed last December with just a handful of members after more than three years.

TrustMark's funding will run until April 2007, when it is planned to be self-funding with a £10 levy from members.

Mr Bernard said: 'We are going to be a lot more intelligent about how we spend the money this time.'

TrustMark - boasting around 15,000 members from 24 trade associations - will be launched to the public in October.

Mr Bernard was originally hoping for 25,000 members but not all members of the Government's self-assessment schemes were deemed good enough to be included.

He added: 'Because of the reduced membership we pushed for the extra promotional money to make it work, but there was a bit of a hiatus because it landed on the trade and industry secretary's desk on the same day that MG Rover went into administration.'

TrustMark is administered by the Chartered Institute of Builders but is advertising for a new permanent board chairman to work one day a week on the fledgling scheme.

Mr Bernard said: 'I've been involved for a while, so I think it needs a new mind to take it forward now.'