Business Licensing and the SIA

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I was one of the 60 or so delegates at the SIA Approved Contractors forum in Stoke upon Trent last week. The ranks were swelled by those wanting know more about the implications of the Business Licensing programme which is due to be implemented in 2014 and the opportunities and/or threats to those who already hold approved Contractor Status.

The one issue that representatives of the SIA were unable or unwilling to announce is just how much the scheme is going to cost and this has led to some criticism in the industry press. I can however, understand this, as I can vividly re-call when licensing for individuals was first proposed. Licenses were originally going to cost £30 then, £60 then £90 and upwards until we ended up at £190 for a license and I really can’t imagine that the SIA would want to suffer the embarrassment of such an escalation for a second time.

It was stressed that there will be a difference between a Business License and the Approved Contractor Status. Whilst an Approved Contractor will not be able to automatically gain a Business License, the process should be easier as they should have most if not all qualifications already in place. It should also mean that it may mean the Audit for ACS could become a shorter process as many of the criteria for ACS will be contained in the Business License.

To clarify this, it was explained that the current ACS scheme contains both:

  • Fit and Proper to run a business in the industry criteria
  • Quality Criteria related to British Standards etc

The “Fit and Proper” criteria will become Business Licensing and this will become necessary for an organisation to trade lawfully.

The Quality Criteria remains voluntary, will be reviewed, updated and will continue at least until Business Licensing is fully established.

There is still some debate to go as to whether being an approved Contractor will remain financially viable at this time, whether ACS will remain a requirement for tendering in the future and who will choose to remain as Approved Contractors. What is for certain is that by 6th April 2015 the SIA will expect full compliance with the law regarding Business Licensing and that maximum penalties will include an unlimited fine and “controlling minds” may be individually liable.

Watch this space for further information

We first wrote about this topic in April 2013 – read UK Security Business Licensing from 2014

Written by: Paul Ritchie

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