tradesmen with fake ID

Tradesmen with fake ID is nothing new. The problem of false documents in the construction industry has been well known for decades

Any document that can be forged has been, and has been used extensively across all sectors of the construction industry including property refurbishment and development projects

Trade qualifications, safety training documents, safety critical test results, passports, National Insurance numbers and tax certificates have all been passed off as originals

To counter this, robust systems have been put in place on big projects. Workers documents are checked several times before they even set foot on a job

However these checks are not in place on smaller jobs

Many people have never had to hire tradesmen before. They wouldn’t know an original document from a fake or wouldn’t know who to contact to verify a document

A recent article published on the construction enquirer website suggests the problem is about to get worse

The article deals with the issue of tradesmen with fake ID. Experts fear that the recent changes in legal status for EU workers will lead to an upsurge in false documents being used. Although the article mentions EU workers, anyone in the industry knows this is in no way limited to workers from abroad

The article specifically mentions CSCS cards and UTR numbers. (Full article here )

What are CSCS cards? 

CSCS stands for Construction skills certification scheme. This shows what qualifications and safety training people have had for working on a construction site. Sites require these for insurance purposes. It shows that a worker has had training in the hazards they may encounter on a construction site and how to protect themselves from them. As a result if they have an accident it shows that they were aware of the dangers of working on a site

What is a UTR number?

UTR stands for Unique Tax Reference. It is a number issued by HMRC to identify self employed workers or companies. If a tradesman or builder is operating as a sole trader he will pay tax under the CIS scheme. This means that any payments due to him will have money deducted for CIS tax which will be passed directly to HMRC

What are a developers obligations regarding CSCS cards?

Anybody engaged in developing property that is not on their own home is regarded as a commercial client. Therefore they have a legal obligation for health and safety under the HSE CDM Regulations 2015 . It is not  a legal requirement to hold a CSCS card to work on a construction site. However it is a legal requirement to have the skills and experience to work safely on site. Most importantly in the event of an accident the employer would have to prove that they were satisfied that everybody working on a site was suitably skilled and experienced. The best way to ensure this would be to require everybody to have a CSCS card

What are a developers obligations regarding UTR numbers?

If a tradesman is working as a sole trader the person they are working for must deduct money under the CIS scheme and pay that directly to HMRC. CIS deductions are charged at either 20%, 30% or 0%. In order to find out the correct amount to be deducted the UTR number must be verified with HMRC. It is not possible for an individual to do this. This can only be done by an Accountant or an agent authorised by HMRC. More information can be found from HMRC here

What are the risks to developers regarding CSCS cards?

It will become harder for tradesmen who do not have legal status to find work on large building sites. So it is natural that they will seek work on smaller projects. As a result some of them will look for work on small refurbishment projects where they know it is unlikely anyone will check their qualifications or ask for CSCS cards. This will present a high risk to anyone with CDM responsibility. Workers in this position will likely be prepared to work for lower rates. This is just another reason why using cheap labour is a false economy on a refurbishment project

What are the risks to developers regarding UTR numbers?

If a developer does not deduct the correct amount of tax and pay it to HMRC they could find themselves in serious trouble. Firstly they could be subject to an investigation by HMRC or even criminal prosecution. Secondly this could end up with their project being brought to a halt or their company being closed down. An investigation from HMRC will put investors capital at risk. Protecting your investors money in a property deal should be every developers main concern. This will not be possible if you are employing people working with false documents and no evidence of safety training

What is the solution?

When employing any builder or tradesman it is vital to do your due diligence on them. Ask if they are a member of any trade or professional bodies. If they are check them out. Ask for their UTR number and get it checked by an Accountant. Ask for evidence of qualifications and  safety training. Above all if you are hiring a builder who is bringing multiple trades to site ask him to provide a competency matrix of all the people who will be working on the project


If you need help with any aspect of a project please contact us. We offer a wide range of services for anybody involved in property development or refurbishment projects

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