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Sign Up To Trustmark To Win Business

A new scheme to protect consumers from cowboy builders is open for business and ready to take its first applications Construction Minister Alun Michael announced today.

"TrustMark is about being able to trust builders as professionals who will deliver" said Mr Michael.

Botched home improvement work costs consumers £1.5 billion annually. Over 111,000 complaints about cowboy builders were registered with trading standards officers last year. Complaints are growing and substantially outstrip those about the next highest category, second hand car dealers. The scheme will 'go live' in the autumn when consumers will be able to use TrustMark to help them source a reputable firm for a wide range of work.

Speaking to senior building trade representatives Alun Michael urged them to sign up and support the scheme.

He said, “There is strong public demand for this type of scheme and I am pleased that your Industry has recognised the need for action and the need to protect their customers from cowboy traders. I hope this enthusiasm and commitment will be reflected across the industry.

"Only enthusiastic and consistent construction Industry involvement and support will make TrustMark a success and help to drive up standards. I'm glad Government has supported and facilitated this scheme but now it's over to you.

"I urge everyone in the construction industry to sign up to become approved scheme operators and help make TrustMark a valued and respected scheme."

In future, consumers using a firm registered with TrustMark will know that the firm they have chosen has:

  • signed up to an industry code of practice and rigorous complaints handling process;
  • allowed the quality of work and trading practices of the business to be regularly checked; and
  • agreed to make clients aware of any building control notifications required to cover the work involved (or is provided with a certificate of compliance where the firm has Competent Persons self-certification rights)

The Government has committed £2 million to set up and support TrustMark while it establishes itself. The scheme is expected to become self-financing within two years through the registration fees of members. Around 25 trade organisations have already expressed an interest in becoming approved scheme operators that could deliver up to 14,000 TrustMark registered firms. TrustMark is based on the existing set of core standards for the construction industry and includes the improvements in quality that trade bodies have made in recent years to raise standards and offer better, more responsive customer care. Industry trade associations, certification bodies, Competent Persons schemes and commercial organisations can apply to become approved scheme operators for TrustMark with a licence to award the TrustMark to their registered firms, such as general builders and specialist trades.

Dan Bernard, chair of TrustMark said, "I am delighted to have been able to work with so many in the industry to make TrustMark a reality. Having learned the lessons from previous efforts in this area, I am confident that TrustMark will be a success and make a real difference for consumers and for the industry."

Graham Bowler of AJA Registrars, one of the first organisations to apply to become an approved scheme operator for TrustMark, said, "From our experience, Government supported schemes such as TrustMark help to generate consumer confidence within an industry."

Ian Davis, Director General of the Federation of Master Builders said, "TrustMark is a major achievement. It will bring confidence for consumers and more work for good builders."

Pete Tynan from Which? said, "It's very difficult for a consumer to choose a reputable tradesperson. We have to rely on word-of-mouth recommendations or take a gamble. TrustMark should help people identify firms that meet standards of workmanship and have signed up to systems that protect consumers if there are problems. Consumers should have confidence that they're choosing the right person to do the work."

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