CICV voices fears over introduction of new UK Conformity Assessed mark

Alan Wilson

THE Construction Industry Collective Voice (CICV) is urging the Scottish Government to intervene and help address concerns raised by construction firms over the introduction of the new UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark.

The organisation’s Post-Brexit and Trade Group has written to business minister Ivan McKee requesting assistance as businesses grapple with new UKCA conformity assessment and certification arrangements that replace CE Marking after 31 December this year.

The UK Government is introducing a new ‘UK Conformity Assessed’ mark for goods placed on the market in Great Britain from 1 January 2023. Ministers seek new powers to end the recognition of CE marking in favour of UKCA marking in the recently passed Building Safety Act.

CICV has highlighted the ‘deep frustration’ among manufacturers and importers that there is currently no route to accept historic test data and reports from EU Notified Bodies for use in complying with UKCA marking.

This, it claims, poses a particular problem for goods in relation to the Assessment and Verification of Performance (AVCP) System 3. If manufacturers and distributors want to continue selling their goods in Britain, they have to be re-tested and certified by an accredited UK Approved Body.

The CICV added that it is concerned at the lack of progress between the UK Government and individual companies, trade associations and certification and testing bodies to prepare properly. The body argues there is ‘insufficient testing capacity and capability’ for manufacturers to have their goods assessed and certified for the British market, using UK-based approved bodies, by the end of this year.

The letter says: “There are simply not enough approved companies or qualified people to conduct the huge number of assessments and certifications required to gain UKCA marking in time.

“For example: there are no UK Approved Bodies able to test:

  • insulation: most types of pipe insulation and duct insulation;
  • trench heating: most types for residential, commercial & municipal buildings;
  • renders: several types of synthetic renders and render-based brick slips;
  • glass: several types of coated and laminated glass inc. mirrors;
  • plastic pipes: several types of thermoplastic pipes for underground drainage.

For other goods, there are scant few UK Approved Bodies available:

  • radiators: only one approved company whose entire annual capacity is fully booked;
  • fire doors: only two approved companies for smoke leakage tests;
  • sealants: only one approved company – most tests take up to 3 months to allow for curing.”

The CICV added that with continued uncertainty about future regulations, capital costs for SMEs to invest in equipment and facilities, and ‘next-to-no time’ available to find and train specialist staff, there is ‘little appetite for businesses to take the plunge’.

The letter says: “Whitehall has told businesses to prepare for the end of CE Marking on 31 December 2022. Legislation is required but the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) cannot give a firm date for this.

“The risk is that faced with ongoing difficulties – like higher raw material, energy, labour and transport costs and other inflationary pressures – businesses do not bother, hoping somebody will come up with answers in time.

“CICV says the situation is fast becoming serious for British manufacturers who are already spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on testing to both UK and EU standards. With eight months to go, there are too many unresolved questions about post-2023 arrangements.

“The preferred solution is for ministers to pause now that the Building Safety Act is on the statute book and take heed of what industry is telling them. The CICV view is that deferring the 31 December 2022 date is obvious and necessary and UK ministers should move quickly to say so and dispel uncertainty.

“Drafting the statutory instruments to bring in new provisions is critical and must be done correctly to avoid unintended consequences that harm British businesses. It is sensible and pragmatic to delay the secondary legislation to allow business to prepare properly.

“If the situation described is not resolved (and soon), the logical conclusion is that goods cannot be sold after 1 January – and construction, housebuilding and property RMI will slow down or stop.”

The letter concludes with the CICV asking the Scottish Government to recognise the concerns expressed and to see if there is scope within devolved powers to assist.

Alan Wilson, MD of SELECT and chair of CICV, said, “With this submission to Mr McKee we are hopeful that the Scottish Government can bring its influence to bear on this matter and allay the well-founded fears of CICV members.”