Lock on... a fair deal for contractors

At a meeting a few weeks ago an industry colleague was relaying why he had been running late: he had been to a set-up meeting for a project his company successfully tendered for. He had been on the site with his team to get them started and to go over the contract with the client.

What was significant was the fact that he had been asked to shave another seven per cent off the bottom line before he was allowed to start. This is all the more remarkable given that the job had been tendered for and this company was deemed to be the best price. The contractor and client shall remain nameless other than it was a commercial project for a well-known brand.

What I find astonishing is that in the commercial sector contractors are increasingly pressured on price. Given the amount of work and training that has been invested in to win the work, it is scandalous.

I am relieved, in some ways, that the domestic sector is not so tightly regulated and certainly does not fall under the radar of the Health & Safety Executive in quite the same way as the commercial sector does. But the industry does need regulation to ensure that all landscaping work, whether commercial or domestic, is undertaken safely, professionally and to a good standard. For those who do comply, though, there is a cost in the training and the delivery of the safe systems of work.

But in the real world, how many domestic clients will demand risk assessments, method statements, certificates of competence or Construction Skills Certification Scheme cards before work can commence on their project? I venture at present the answer is nil. All aspects of this industry should be treated in the same way — many domestic projects are almost civil engineering projects in themselves - with no radar watching over them.

Jason Lock is chief executive of the Association of Professional Landscapers

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