The recent BBC Newsnight undercover investigation identified fraudulent activity at some test centres delivering construction industry training. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), British Safety Council (BSC) and Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) has made the following joint statement:
“It is our firm belief that for construction sites to remain safe and productive all workers should hold the correct qualifications and training for the type of work they carry out. People obtaining qualifications fraudulently are not qualified to do their job and cannot demonstrate the required level of health and safety needed to operate safely on a UK construction site. Fraudulent activity undermines legitimate employees and harms the reputation of the industry.
It is vital that employers are able to rely on the CSCS card as an accurate measure of the training and qualifications held by a site worker. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the system is effective in tackling those who commit fraudulent and criminal acts.
In the last year, CITB has doubled investment in fraud detection and put plans in place to crack down on card fraud. Three centres highlighted by Newsnight were already under investigation prior to the programme being broadcast, along with a further two centres which had already been closed down. Accelerated plans to increase anti-fraud measures such as increased spot checks and the installation of CCTV at all testing centres is underway.
All three organisations have worked hard over the last few weeks to ensure our combined response to the issues raised retains the support and confidence of the industry.
Our intelligence suggests that organised fraud accounts for a small proportion of card applications. Based on the evidenced gathered by CITB 6,000 individuals have been notified that they will be required to re-sit their CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test. In addition, BSC has identified 1,500 suspect Level 1 Award examinations requiring re-test.
Those individuals notified have one month to register to be retested and must pass the examinations within three months. Failure to complete either of these steps will result in the immediate and permanent cancellation of the CSCS card. CITB and BSC have confirmed that retesting will be free of charge.
We have agreed this approach in order to ensure that we strike a balance between minimising disruption on sites and removing the risk of fraud.
The potential for fraud can be significantly reduced by using the Smart technology contained within the CSCS card to check validity. Alternatively, you can visit www.citb.co.uk/cardcheck to make sure that all cancelled cards are identified and those individuals are prevented from working on site.
If employers have any concerns regarding this process or the status of any individual(s) working on their sites they can contact 0344 994 4053, a dedicated helpline established to assist with this matter.
We continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies. Where possible we always prosecute those engaged in fraudulent activity”.
Suzannah Nichol, Chief Executive at Build UK said: “Build UK fully supports a comprehensive training and qualifications structure capable of delivering the necessary skills and properly certifying the diverse construction workforce. We are committed to recognising industry card schemes that carry the CSCS logo.
Build UK is confident that the majority of qualifications and cards issued are legitimate and will work with its members, CITB, BSC, CSCS, and where appropriate, Government to make sure that all employers carry out the proper checks on the construction workforce.”