THE Scottish Government has told Project Scotland that it ‘shares the concerns’ of construction businesses over the introduction of the new UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark and is seeking ‘urgent solutions’ to some of the issues which have been raised.
The Construction Industry Collective Voice (CICV) recently urged the Scottish Government to intervene, with the organisation’s Post-Brexit and Trade Group writing 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 Britain. 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, the group 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 says 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 group 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 to Mr McKee states: “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.”
The letter goes on to say that if the situation 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.”
Project Scotland asked the Scottish Government for a response to the matters raised. A spokesperson told us, “The Scottish Government’s opposition to Brexit, and the terms in which it happened, is clear. That is why ministers have consistently made clear that the best interests of the Scottish economy are served as members of the European Union and European single market, which is around seven times bigger than the UK.
“The Scottish Government shares the concerns raised by construction businesses, and other sectors, over the introduction of the new UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark which will lead to a lack of UKCA testing facilities and have serious implications for manufacturers.
“This issue is further evidence of an unnecessary problem for businesses and industries in Scotland caused by the consequence of Brexit and leaving the EU.
“Alan Wilson of the Construction Industry Collective Voice led a discussion of these issues at the Construction Leadership Forum meeting on Thursday 26 May, which further underlined the potential serious consequences for the construction sector and future works. The Scottish Government has agreed to see what help can be provided and Scottish ministers are also in discussion with the UK Government on this issue and are seeking urgent solutions for the industry.”