‘Inconsiderate’: outrage as Considerate Constructors Scheme dumps monitors

The Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) has summarily axed 20 of its monitors, Construction News has learned.

In an email seen by CN, the not-for-profit organisation said it had taken a “tough decision” to reduce the number of people carrying out inspections of registered sites.

Such visits are typically carried out by self-employed monitors paid to assess construction activities against a Code of Considerate Practice. Many have worked for the scheme regularly for several years and have distinguished backgrounds in the industry.

But in an email sent last Monday (3 June) on behalf of CCS head of social impact Kevin Hutchinson, a number of individuals were told they were surplus to requirements.

“This is due to the downturn within the construction industry, which has led to an increase in companies going into administration and continued decreases in registrations,” said the four-paragraph email.

While allocated visits should be completed, selected monitors would have their access to an internal system and email address “deactivated”, said the note.

It added: “We appreciate that this news is unexpected, and unfortunate. The scheme would like to thank you for your time and [the] expertise you have applied towards your monitoring.”

One of those receiving the email told CN he had conducted hundreds of assessments for the organisation.

“Last Friday I had the usual message about how many visits I wanted in August. Then I get the email on Monday.

“It was an extremely impersonal, generic email, and it was a blow. There are people there I have a relationship with who could have picked up the phone.

“I am disappointed with how it was done, it was not very considerate to say the least.”

Another said: “I worked one or two days for the CCS most weeks. This came out of the blue.

“It was ‘dear monitor, you are no longer required’. I was shocked. I had no inkling that numbers were dropping.

“My big gripe is the way it was done. For an organisation promoting best practice it seems off. We were not even addressed by name. No one picked up the phone. It is disconcerting to just be thrown on the scrapheap.”

A third source said: “I got the email while on holiday and it has left a bitter taste to say the least.

“One of the three main sections of its code is to value the workforce but we haven’t been valued. They could have asked if anyone wanted to retire or just told people they might not be quite as busy, as they did during the pandemic.

“This has caused ill will and it is getting to the point where the industry needs to have a conversation about where the scheme is going.

“The sense you get is that registrations have dropped and there is some pushback from industry.”

The CCS website says it helps “thousands of construction sites, organisations and suppliers” to raise their standards every year by improving their contribution to the community and the environment and “improving workforce conditions”.

Hutchinson confirmed to CN that 20 monitors out of the 100 or so in the scheme have been told their services are no longer required. However, he acknowledged it should have been handled differently.

He said: “I do apologise for the way in which it was executed. I should have been more specific in what I said, and there’s a lesson to be learned for myself.”

The CCS has answered queries from all those who have contacted it, Hutchinson added, and the organisation has a “dedicated member of staff to speak to them”.

A regular monthly meeting with the affected monitors, originally planned for last week, has been rescheduled for this week, he added.

The 20 monitors have been given the option to remain on a reserve list for potential future work if they desire.

“We’ve got to make sure we allocate the right number of visits to the right number of monitors,” said Hutchinson, but the CCS said this isn’t easy given the struggles the construction industry still faces.

CCS head of marketing Jeff Lewis said the number of monitors has had to decrease as there is less demand.

“The reduction of visits is due to the reduction in construction sites, which is representative of the reduction in the industry that we are seeing,” he added.

The scheme’s executive chair Amit Oberoi said: “The industry may be picking up… but there’s a massive lag” before this feeds into the monitors’ workloads. “That’s what we’ve tried to explain to our monitors for three years.”

Such is the high rate of insolvencies in the sector that “some of the people that are paying for our services are probably not in business anymore”, he added.

“I think that’s what the monitors have failed to understand.”

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