Different industries throughout the UK have adopted a variety of recovery strategies from the COVID-19 situation, often uniting in a collaborative approach that relates to government policy with an interpretation tailored to the sector.
The government departments have been working at different paces and off different agendas which may well cause problems in the future with the outputs by industry. BEIS’ interest in driving the economy is not an immediate match to MHCLG focus on regulations nor HSE on safety. My preference in boosting the economy would be to ensure it is for those who have proven competence rather than entire sectors that can hold good, bad or indifferent.
Glazing clearly had issues with its government understanding during the opening months of COVID-19, with the industry’s relationship proving to be more around individuals than collective bodies. Public statements about essential and non-essential work being the same were clearly mis-informed and required an immediate backstep by those purveying this error.
The position of Everest Home Improvements during May caused much concern with several civil servants, placing the whole position onto a watchlist due to the potential impact. The lack of deposit coverage and threat to consumers showed a failure in industry structures that consequently created a reliance on those purchasing the assets.
The future of deposit protection and indeed financial protection for consumers as a whole in our industry is already being reviewed in Westminster. Some new models that have arisen recently within our sector are likely to fall outside of the eventual rule changes, as even though some of the rule wordings can enable lesser models targeted at the gaps, the principles of protection need to be demonstrated.
Insurance protection for our industry installations in the home needs to continue as the failure rate of companies in a post-COVID lockdown is likely to increase. Those stating that Insurance Backed Guarantees are not required are showing a lack of responsibility to the customers of our industry installers, especially when the product is not designed to cover 90% of the failures covered by standard industry policies.
I am now into my third year as Chair of Certass, and our members’ reaction to the COVID crisis has shown to me, once again, that local glazing installers really are considerably more professional than many like to suggest when pushing consumer protection models. The very low failure rate of the Certass installers has enabled the introduction of a risk-based inspection model, 6 months ahead of scheduling. It brings CPD requirements on installers but saves on inspection costs.
With the new Built Environment Strategy Group work commencing, the eventual flow through into the RMI sector will require our installers to be more up to date than previously demonstrated. However, it is fair to trade a greater proven professionalism for less on-site auditing, particularly when supported by clear evidence of local tradespeople’s competency.
Government will be requiring greater insight into inspection rates in 2021 and our industry needs to get out in front of such changes, rather than maximising on old models only to later point at government as the reason for increased charges to mask a lack of foresight.
All this relates to our lack of cohesion with government at the association level. The average glazing installation firm wants to do its work at a fair price and be respected for what it delivers for its customers. Our membership bodies need to stop looking for the gaps to develop or protect themselves, as the real job is to further the aims of our industry collectively. Each time we introduce actions such as the closing of a consumer deposit fund or a new guarantee aimed at only paying out for building regulation issues, we step further away from the aims of collective government.
We are inviting scrutiny and pressure on our industry at a time when government is hearing calls for a review of glazing within the home. Certass will ensure its installers are in the right place but unless there are changes elsewhere, those looking in and judging our industry will see disparity and many causes for concern at a time when we should be showing our best to inspire support.