COVID- – did we get it right?
Certass Chair, Jon Vanstone, refl ects on the challenges that were presented to
installers over the last three months and as we begin to come out of lockdown.
Different industries throughout the UK
have adopted a variety of recovery
strategies from the COVID- 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 from 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-, 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
fi nancial 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 % 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, six 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 fl ow
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.
LACK OF COHESION
Government will be requiring greater insight into
inspection rates in 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 fi rm 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 cause for concern at a time when we
should be showing our best to inspire support.
“Glazing clearly had issues with its
government understanding during the
opening months of COVID-”