Traditionally, at this time of year, the Certass article takes a look back over the last 12 months; and what a year of upheaval 2014 has been for our industry! To put the past year in context of how far the Competent Person has journeyed, I want to travel back in a time even farther. It has been 12 years since authority was given to the first Competent Person Schemes. 3 companies were chosen to operate such schemes for 3 different trades.
2002: The introduction of Competent Person Schemes brought cost savings and less paperwork to installers throughout England & Wales versus those using the Local Authority Building Control. The scheme became popular and in-turn consumers started to understand that Building Regulation Compliance Certificates (BRCCs) did not need to come from the Local Authority.
Although the benefits of Competent Person Scheme membership were obvious; at this stage, there was only one Competent Person Scheme operator for glazing installers. Healthy markets crave competition and it was clear that there was room for more than one Competent Person Scheme in the glazing industry and that such competition would be beneficial to contractors.
2006: Fast forward to the year in which Certass launched its own Competent Person Scheme. This gave the marketplace the wholesome competitive element that it needed. This was of benefit to all stakeholders in the glazing industry; not only glazing contractors, but also to ancillary players such as insurance backed guarantee providers.
Certass quickly built up a loyal following of contractors, to whom Certass remains eternally grateful. This vindicated our position that competition was needed in this marketplace.
2010: I joined Certass; I was brought into the company for my technical knowledge and my background as a tradesman, building surveyor and training provider. My first task upon joining was to develop a Window Energy Rating scheme. At the time it was looking as though the Building Regulations were going to provide one company with a domineering position for the delivery of Window Energy Ratings. Certass made representations to Government in order to ensure that this did not take place. We also developed our own Window Energy Rating scheme to demonstrate our ability to deliver a scheme alternative. It is only through Certass’ intervention that prices for Window Energy Ratings have fallen to their current levels.
Since 2010, Certass has developed major partnerships with glass manufacturers, system companies and trade associations to deliver innovative solutions to industry. As the profile of Certass has increased so has the growth of Certass’ membership numbers. There are currently 9 DCLG authorised Competent Person Scheme operators for the glazing industry. Certass is currently in a strong 2nd place and gaining. Although Certass is driven to grow its position in the marketplace; it will always defend and preserve its core values – providing choice, value for money, a friendly service and tailoring the delivery mechanisms and platforms of the service to meet the needs of the customer.
2012: DCLG launched their Conditions of Authorisation to provide a level playing field for compliance to all Competent Person Scheme operators. Every Competent Person Scheme operator had to demonstrate compliance with these conditions within 2 years. Whilst this meant lots of behind the scenes work at Certass to gain UKAS accreditation, member contractors did not feel the same pain as was felt by members of other Competent Person Schemes because the Certass Competent Person Scheme was already operating to UKAS standards.
2014: Certass commenced enforcement of the final 2 Conditions of Authorisation; namely the requirement for Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) and the requirement for the universal provision of consumer protection (in the form of Insurance Backed Guarantees). These changes have been monumental –but also necessary for Competent Person Schemes to comply with the Conditions of Authorisation- and the MTCs in particular can present time obstacles.
That being said, I truly believe that this will be the year where it is said that the Competent Person has “grown up”. Imagine for a second, what service you would be getting if there was only one Competent Person Scheme? Or what price you would be paying without the hard work we have put in since 2006? It is only the competition that we at Certass have brought to the marketplace that has kept the lid on high cost increases (which would have otherwise been necessary, given the increasingly stringent requirements). It is only with your support that we grow and between us are able to strike the right balance within the marketplace. So if you haven’t already, why not visit our website and download our application forms to see what we have to offer?
We’re not perfect and we know it; but at Certass we strive to continue to improve our service to you. We will always listen and try to keep you as a happy customer. Our promise to you is that we will keep working hard to deliver a better service and range of products suited to you.
Thanks for working with us over the years to make our industry better for all!
Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year to one and all.