Personally I am all for change and reform, if it benefits the industry it is causing an effect on. However, over the past 12 months, we have seen a whole raft of changes implemented which have caused our industry no end of headaches, and the next few weeks are going to be no different.

CE Marking

It really all started with the introduction of CE Marking last year. A European Union directive which saw this country join the ranks of other European nations by sticking that CE mark on everything produced, bought or exported within Europe. Despite numerous workshops by almost every major systems company and fabricator, the  task for companies becoming CE compliant by the July 1st deadline was a rush to the finish at best.

Still, even to this day, it is estimated that up to 80% of the industry still isn’t CE compliant, meaning that technically, those companies are trading illegally according to EU law. And to be honest, even if that figure is only half true, it’s no surprise. The way those regulations were implemented were farcical. The fact that it was left up to industries to take care of such a massive upheaval in regulations, seemingly without any Government help or assistance, is shocking.

Compulsory IBGs

Next we have compulsory Insurance Backed Guarantees. Now for some, this will matter very little as some businesses may have been offering and including IBGs with all their contracts for years. Up to now, it has been law to offer an IBG, giving the consumer the choice to accept or reject it. On a personal note, I would like to say at this point that our company has been including them for a long time. Not because we think our customers need them. We’re over 3 decades old, without a name change or bankruptcy. But, you never know!

Anyway, from June 6th it is going become compulsory that every Competent Person Scheme member include an IBG with every contract sold. If they don’t, they won’t be able to register their installation. And seen as though every window and door installer needs to be part of some sort of self-assessment scheme in order to register an installation, say with FENSA Certass, you can’t really do one without the other.

All Contracts Must Change By 13th June

Here comes the good old EU with yet another directive this Government happily signed us up to. This time, it is the EU Consumer Rights Directive that is being implemented on June 13th. This is a two part directive, with one half not going to have much of an impact, with the other half being the bit we should be worried about.

The first part of this bill is that a 14 day cooling off period will become standard across the whole of the EU. There are exceptions to this rule, for example where products have been to a consumers special requirements and sizes, for example, windows and doors. So no need to freak out about that part. But the other half of this bill is what concerns me.

It is bringing in to force a law that allows a consumer a whopping 379 days cooling off period if certain pre-contract information isn’t provided. For example, failure to explain the cooling off rights to the customer, or failing to disclose to the consumer if your business belongs to a code of conduct. Those are just two examples of an apparently LONG list of pre-contract information the EU wants businesses to provide to the consumer.

Lets be honest, if 80% of our industry now isn’t CE compliant, what chance do we have of getting all this “pre-contract information” right?! Just think of the loopholes professional non-payers are going to exploit with this one. Claims that businesses never told them of their rights, or lackluster contracts could be rife! Then there’s the cooling off period of 54 weeks! Which suit at the EU council of big wigs thought that over a year was a reasonable length of time for a cooling off period. What is worse, a company failing to comply with this faces a £5k fine.

Too Much Too Soon

I’m sorry, but there is simply too much going on right now for installers and all other businesses in our industry. MTC’s, transition inspections, compulsory IBGs, CE marking, EU Consumer Rights Directive, Competent Persons Schemes. All this has managed to have been crammed into the last 12 months and quite frankly, it’s no wonder that so many businesses are not compliant with various rules and regs as it is being claimed.

What makes the situation more frustrating is that most of the above has had to be discovered via press releases through the trade media or Twitter. You would have thought that UK laws being changed from Brussels would have warranted some sort of aid from our Government to help all businesses make the transition to these new businesses practices more simpler. But no, our Government has let us down. The only ones set to benefit from these new changes are those charging to help implement them. Millions of pounds are set to be made for a few companies at the expense of many thousands of others. All in the name of nanny-state EU directives of which we have no control.

My biggest fear is that all this extra red tape which our own Government pledged to reduce will effectively force some good people out of the industry. I understand that the aim of all of these changes is to try and improve standards. But when they have been implemented in such a shambolic, disorganised and flaky manner, it might cause some who might be in the latter stages of their careers in the industry to think long and hard as to whether it is worth continuing in this industry now.

I want to make one last point. I do believe that these legislation changes could have been far more organised and easy to understand. I believe that if our Government had taken a leading role in helping UK businesses through the changes by supplying clear guidelines and information, we might not feel as abandoned as some do right now. Instead it has been left to industry, which unfortunately means some self interests take hold.

Anyway, as for the changing of these contracts, I’d love to be able to tell you what needs changing on all our contracts, however I would have had to pay for that.

All comments welcome in the section below.