THE ICE has stepped up pressure on government to cut VAT charged on domestic repair, maintenance and improvement work as part of its campaign against cowboy builders.
Clients will continue to hire cowboy firms unless the Treasury reduces VAT to 5%, allowing reputable builders to reduce their fees, the Institution warned.
The call follows introduction nationwide of the government's Quality Mark scheme, announced last month by construction minister Brian Wilson.
But while the Institution has welcomed the initiative to tackle rogue builders, it believes it will only work if professional building firms are relieved of the tax burden that drives less wealthy customers to cowboys in the first place.
'The Department of Trade & Industry has started a job that it is now up to the Treasury to finish, ' said an ICE spokesman.
Homeowners can call the Quality Mark hotline or log on to the website to find an independently assessed tradesperson in one of 18 trades.
All have had their work independently assessed and approved and have signed a customer care code ensuring that they will give clear quotes and written contracts, complete work on time and behave in a professional manner.
Their work is covered by warranty for up to six years and is backed by an independent complaints procedure.
Following successful trials in Birmingham and Somerset the Quality Mark will be rolled out over the next three to four years beginning with urban areas in England and Wales and districts that have already demonstrated interest.
Quality Mark will for the first time provide homeowners with access to independent information on tradesmen, said the spokesman. 'But the reduction in VAT would couple knowledge with affordability, allowing individuals the best possible chance of engaging quality builders who will do a quality job.'
The ICE has also welcomed the government's prebudget announcement that tax relief will be offered for expenditure on research and development by large companies in the UK from 1 April.
The move follows a similar announcement for small to medium-sized companies in the 2000 Budget, and means that all UK construction firms will now have equal incentive and opportunity to invest in innovation.
INFOPLUS www. qualitymark. org. uk