The CICV is calling on the Scottish Government to intervene and help address concerns raised by Scottish construction businesses over the introduction of the new UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark.
The unique alliance’s Post-Brexit and Trade Group has written to Business Minister Ivan McKee (pictured above) requesting assistance as CICV 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 at present no route to accept historic test data and reports from EU Notified Bodies for use in complying with UKCA Marking.
This poses a particular problem, it says, 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 Great Britain, they have to be re-tested and certified by an accredited UK Approved Body.
The CICV is concerned at the lack of progress between the UK Government and individual companies, trade associations and certification and testing bodies to prepare properly.
It argues that 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 calendar 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 says that with continued uncertainty about as-yet-unknown future regulations, large capital costs for SMEs to invest in more or new 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.”
It continues: “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. “Any representations you can make to the UK Government on our behalf would be gratefully appreciated”, it adds.
Alan Wilson, MD of SELECT, the representative trade body of Scotland’s electro-mechanical sector, and who chairs the CICV, said: “With this submission to Mr McKee we are hopeful that that the Scottish Government can bring its influence to bear on this matter and allay the well-founded fears of CICV members.”
New guidance has been published for UK Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) who are intending to subcontract tasks such as testing, certification or inspection. This process will limit the the need to test new products in the UK and Europe separately for the purpose of conformity marking (UKCA and CE Marking).
Overview of Guidance
Subcontracting is the act of contracting another body to do a task, which you have been appointed to perform, as part of the conformity assessment process. This is also commonly referred to as ‘outsourcing’. UK CABs can subcontract most tasks within the UKCA conformity assessment process, such as testing, certification or inspections. However, the decision on conformity itself must be made by a UK CAB.
If a CAB has an overseas subsidiary, the subsidiary to carry out the conformity assessment activities subject to the same conditions as using sub-contractors.
Subcontracting does not include when individuals are contracted-in as employees of a UK CAB (regardless of where they are employed). These individuals fall under the quality management system of that body.
There may be different conditions for products approved under the terms of a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) with the UK. The requirements for CABs are detailed within these agreements.
Note EU does not afford a reciprocal privilege to Notified Bodies for CE marking and this process will not impact legacy testing, where the lack of mutual recognition in the Exit Agreement prevents recognition of historic testing or Engineering Assessment Documents for some CE Market products (those covered by ACVP 3).
More information on sub-contracting is available on the Government website here
To access the FIS Brexit Toolkit click here
The UK Government has notified the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) of their intention to bring into force the Construction Products Regulations 2022. The document correspondence provides a useful update of the intent and focus of changes to the regulatory environment for construction products. GBR45_EN
The Building Safety Bill will carry the necessary legal changes
In correspondence with the World Trade Organisation the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) have advised WTO thar regulations will be made under the Building Safety Bill (once it has received Royal Assent) and will extend the existing regulatory framework to cover all construction products placed on the market in the UK. The existing regulatory framework for construction products, which derives from EU law, will remain in place for Great Britain (the EU regulatory regime for construction products will continue to apply in Northern Ireland as per the Northern Ireland Protocol). The regulation of safety critical products and the requirement for construction products to be safe will be extended to Northern Ireland.
DLUHC has also advised WTO that the intention of these regulations is to require that construction products placed on the UK market are safe, and can be used safely. It will do this by placing obligations on economic operators in the supply chain, including to carry out a risk assessment, provide customer information and to take corrective measures where necessary.
The Bill includes a power to create a statutory list of ‘safety critical’ construction product standards (where their failure would risk causing serious injury or death). The
regulations set out that manufacturers will be required to complete a declaration of performance, put in place factory production controls and follow the specified system of assessment and verification of constancy of performance to ensure that the claimed performance is consistently met. This will bring the regulation of these products in line with arrangements for products covered by the existing regulatory framework, including the affixation of a UKCA mark. Other economic operators in the supply chain will have obligations placed on them to support compliance with these requirements.
The overall aim is that regulations will strengthen the market surveillance and enforcement regime for construction products so that safety concerns can be identified and dealt with, and action can be taken against those who do not comply with the regulations. This includes powers to investigate, take civil action or prosecute economic operators for breaches in construction products regulations.
Grenfell has highlighted that “many construction products do not fall under a regulatory framework”.
DLUHC advise WTO that changes are necessary following the fatal fire at Grenfell Tower where it became apparent that many construction products do not fall under a regulatory framework. This means that regulators lack powers to act if certain products do not perform in the way they are claimed to, or if they are unsafe. The intent is to make sure that construction products fall under a proportionate regulatory regime that protects the public effectively from products that are not safe. To be effective, reforms must achieve their objective to ensure that products are safe, and can be used safely, in a way that is proportionate to the risk posed by the product. That is why the most stringent requirements (which are equivalent to the existing regulatory regime), including providing clear and accurate performance information, undertaking third-party conformity assessment (where required) and affixing the UKCA marking, will fall only on construction products deemed to be safety critical, where their failure would risk causing serious injury or death.
Other products which currently fall outside of clear regulatory requirements will be required to be safe before they can be placed on the market, aligning with the minimum standard required for consumer products. This broad outcome-based requirement to assess safety risks, rather than requiring specific standards will ensure that the reformed regime will enable rather than restrict market access for innovative products. A new national regulator for construction products will more effectively and proportionately enforce this reformed regulatory framework, improving the ability to remove non-compliant products from the market and to deter non-compliance. This will help to level the playing field between companies who follow best practice and who comply with the law, and those that try to seek a competitive advantage through non-compliance.
A full copy of this correspondence can be seen here.
A full summary of the Building Safety Bill written by FIS is available here