Important changes to BS 5385-1 Wall and Floor Tiling

As part of the five-year review of British Standards and reflecting changes within the tiling industry since 2009 – BS 5385 Part 1: 2018 has now been published.

One significant change made was to exclude the use of plywood as a background material for the direct fixing of ceramic wall and natural stone tiles.

Clause Other sheets and boards (see also now states:
“The use of sheets or boards that are subject to movement from changes in moisture content should be avoided. Plywood and other wood-based sheets or boards should not be used for direct tiling”.

A significant uplift in the use of tile backer boards – such as BAL Board – and a wide variation in quality of plywood available on the market has provided a solid case for the removal of plywood from the standards.

David Wilson, UK Head of Technical Services at BAL and member of the TTA Technical Committee said: “Previously it was recognised in BS5385 Part 1: 2009 that tiling direct to plywood was possible, providing this was restricted to small areas and be “installed in such a way that they provide a dimensionally stable and rigid background” the quality of plywood for tiling purposes has decreased significantly with cheaper imports flooding the market.

“While higher quality external grade plywood is still available – it is significantly more expensive.

“It is important to consider though that that wood is a hygroscopic material which means that its moisture content will change dependent upon any changes in the environmental conditions on site. Therefore, dimensionally stability of wood-based boards cannot be assured there is always a risk to installing ceramic or natural stone tiles onto plywood or other wood-based sheets,

Another technical consideration for wall tiling is weight restrictions. Plywood is deemed to have a maximum weight of tiling per m² of 30 kg compared to proprietary tile backing boards which generally are capable of supporting heavier weights per m² of tiling (As per table 3 of BS 5385-1: 2018 and the TTA Internal Ceramic Tiling to Sheets and Board Substrates document 2016).

“A competitive tile backing board market means that prices are more attractive to tile fixers and contractors. This combined with the additional features and benefits of providing background for tiling which are dimensionally stable and resistant to moisture and thermal movement. “

However, while plywood is not recommended as a background for direct wall tiling, it can still be used as a structural board when overlaid with a suitable tile backing board, particularly where installation of mechanical fixings is required e.g. for mesh backed natural stone where it is not possible to remove 75% or of the mesh backing.

 Other changes to BS standards.

Previously in internal dry wall areas it was recommended that tile adhesive should cover a minimum of 50% coverage spread evenly over the back of the tile. However, driven by necessity, with the increase in the size and types of tiles i.e. larger formats and thin ceramic panels, now available of the market, BS 5385-1: 2018 advises: “Tiles with a surface area of less than 0.1 m², but which weigh more per square metre than 70% of the background’s capacity to carry the weight, should be solidly bedded e.g. the maximum weight of tile that can be supported by Gypsum plaster = 20 kg; whereas 9 mm thick porcelain tiles, which weigh approximately 18 kg/m², weigh more than 70% of 20 kg (14 kg) therefore, they should be solidly bedded regardless of their size”

Included within the scope of BS 5385-1: 2018 are large format ceramic tiles, ceramic panels i.e. tiles with a surface area >1m² (any edge length >1200 mm) and thin tiles i.e. ceramic tiles and panels with a panel thickness of ≤ 5.5 mm. To reflect this, additional changes have also been made in the minimum recommended grout joint width, dependent on the tile/panel size, e.g. the minimum grout widths vary by tile facial area – an example as follows:

  • For tiles with a facial area of less than 0.1m² with no side > 600mm long, a minimum joint width of 2mm is required.
  • Tiles with a facial area 0.1m² to 1m² with no side>1200mm long, a minimum joint width of 3 mm is required.


  • Joints between ceramic panels should be increased pro-rata to panel size (e.g. for a 3m long ceramic panels the minimum required joint width between these panels is 5mm.

Not included in the scope of BS 5385-1: 2018 are:

  • Natural Stone Slabs i.e. stone which is more than 12mm thick,
  • Agglomerate stone,
  • Metal, plastic resin, mirror or glass tiles of a similar construction

For these products it is recommended to always refer to the manufacturer of these products for further advice.

For more information please contact BAL Technical Advisory Service on 03330 030160.

Construction industry faces post-Brexit “double whammy”

Official data shows the construction industry is highly susceptible to a potential “double whammy” fallout from Brexit.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) highlights two particular areas of concern for the UK – the ageing British construction workforce and a reliance on EU workers in the capital.

According to ONS figures 7% of the construction workforce was made up of people from the other 27 EU countries, with 3% from non-EU countries.

Although the industry average is similar to the national average of 6% EU workers and 4% non-EU workers, the industry could be set for a workforce crisis.

The ONS found a 13% increase in the number of workers aged 45 years and over in the construction industry between 1991 and 2011, but non-UK nationals are generally younger.

Indeed, just 18% of non-UK construction workers were aged 45 years and older, compared to 47% of UK nationals.

Meanwhile, in London, 28% of construction workers are EU nationals and 7% are non-EU nationals.

This compares to 13% who are EU27 nationals and 10% non-EU nationals for all other industries in London.

Manny Aparicio, national head of project management at property consultancy and surveyors, Naismiths warned the report made it clear the UK housing crisis could soon be facing a recruitment crisis of its own.

“The youngest blood in UK construction is currently the non-UK nationals but if Brexit makes the UK a less attractive place to work then that demographic could disappear at the same time as the older UK hands retire,” he said.

“It’s a double whammy. If Brexit does make it harder for overseas workers to take up jobs in construction, due to increased red tape and potential costs, the construction industry will suffer.

“Also, we have an ageing workforce of UK construction workers that is simply not being replenished at the required rate. Once a significant percentage of UK construction workers retire, and that day is fast approaching, the sector will struggle,” he said.

Aparicio also noted that the industry was seen as “far less sexy” than other sectors such as technology and this was reflected in the declining number of apprenticeships.

“Anyone in the construction sector needs to understand the potential cost increase of workers during the decade ahead. Failure to factor this in could be disastrous,” he added.



TTA helps fixers gain CSCS cards

CITB funding secured by the TTA is now assisting fixers gain their NVQ, and in turn CSCS cards. This is in accordance with the Government’s aim to achieve a fully qualified workforce by 2020, stimulating the market by providing a route to qualification for experienced operatives via on-site assessment (OSAT). CSCS cards are required for all construction site workers no matter which trade.

The TTA hopes to assist those in our industry sector who have previously gained their CSCS cards via the Industry Accreditation route, as timeserved tillers. Since this route is no longer available and further card renewals may not always be accepted without the new qualifications, the TTA encourages those card holders to complete the EWPAR or OSAT route.

Experienced tilers who gained their CSCS cards via the industry Accreditation route can achieve an NVQ following just one day’s assessment of their work on site. The assessor will also need all other supporting of the candidate’s knowledge, which can be gathered verbally and through supporting documentation. Tilers who go down this route can carry on working, whilst being assessed to NVQ L2.

The TTA is also looking to recruit NVQ assessors to help take advantage of this opportunity to upskill the construction industry. Having independent NVQ assessors will help the TTA strengthen its training activities and make it easier for companies and independent fixers to access the training support they need, and the aim is that eight new NVQ assessors will be trained over the next 18 months.

“The TTA has worked hard to secure this funding for our industry,” says Bob Howard MBE, chair of the Training Committee. “We are providing an opportunity for tillers to obtain the certifications that they need in order to keep working in the changing CSCS environment, and also playing our part in assisting Government in driving up skill level within our industry and achieving a fully skilled workforce by 2020.”

The training that is now on offer comprises a one-day course at a Training Centre or a visit on-site, although there would be an additional charge for the latter.

The training costs £500 for TTA members and £600 for non-TTA members. Both are subject to a £68 registration fee.

The industry needs more Floor & Wall Tiling NVQ Assessors for the future – funding is available to those interested in training as an Assessor – expressions of interest are encouraged. Please contact the TTA on or by telephoning 0300 365 8453


UK construction industry growth falters

The UK’s Construction sector had an underwhelming Q4 2017 with only a 2.26% growth in sales and a 2.28% rise in failed businesses, according to the Creditsafe Watchdog Report. The report tracks quarterly economic developments across construction and 11 other sectors.

The report showed that the number of high risk businesses had increased by 12.15% on the previous quarter, and the number of very low risk firms had seen a drop from 58,261 to 55,734 (4.34%). In addition, companies’ bad debt, the volume owed to the sector, had risen from £9,136,325 to £12,735,137, a 39.39% increase on Q3, despite a fall of 40.41% compared to Q4 2016. However, the number of companies affected by bad debt fell by 14.94%, meaning the average amount owed to each business in the construction sector saw 63.87% increase. Total employment rose by 14.40% from Q3 to Q4, and by 32.21% compared to the start of 2017.

Rachel Mainwaring, Operations Director at Creditsafe, commented: “Figures in today’s Creditsafe Watchdog Report show a worrying future for the Construction sector. Bad debt owed to the sector has significantly increased, which has likely impacted the number of businesses considered high risk and the higher number of failed firms in Q4.”

“These figures are disappointing, as we hoped the sector was on the road to recovery with the previous quarter’s figures indicating a step in the right direction. The construction industry is notorious for suffering with late payments and this report is evidence that more needs to be done to help this sector survive in difficult industry conditions.”


TTA seeks Carillion information

As the political furore about the collapse of the UK’s second-biggest construction company continues, suppliers and sub-contractors to Carillion have been assured that they will be paid for work carried out after the appointment of the official liquidator on 15 January.

Things look less certain for those already owed money at the time of the collapse. It was reported by The Financial Times that the company had just £29m in the bank when it went bust and some sub-contractors are owed multi-million pound sums and have had to lay off considerable numbers of staff.

The Insolvency Service has said that 90 per cent of the private sector companies currently employing Carillion on projects want the work to continue, although it has confirmed that work has paused on all Carillion construction sites, pending decisions as to how and if they will be restarted.

The TTA is a trade association member of Build UK, an industry body that represents a number of construction related trade associations and major contractor groups. Build UK is currently in discussions with the Government, providing information to support its decision making. To assist in understanding the impact of the collapse across the supply chain, the TTA is working with the CPA (Construction Products Association) and Build UK to ensure that members’ views are fed back to the Secretary of State at future meetings and discussions.

In order to inform these discussions, TTA members are invited to provide the following information – which, please be assured, will be held by the TTA in strictest confidence, and used only for the purpose of feeding back to CPA and Build UK on this issue.

What the Secretary of State would like to know is…

Q1. What % of your turnover do your contracts with Carillion account for?

Q2. Would you be willing to disclose the total value of those contracts (£m)?

Q3. What other issues have you encountered or do you expect to encounter with Carillion projects you are involved with (including what hit do you expect to take)?

Build UK believes that the Carillion debacle raises serious questions about the construction industry’s business model and it is working with the industry, its clients and investors to learn lessons and embed change through the supply chain.

There are also now questions about why the Government granted Carillion more than £1 billion in new contracts even after a profits warning in 2017. Recent developments have also reignited debate about the stability and longterm financial wisdom of  privately funded public contracts.

For the time being, the the priority of all involved is to ensure the continuity of public services while securing the best outcome for creditors. Unless told otherwise, all employees, agents and subcontractors are being asked to continue to work as normal and they will be paid for the work they do during the liquidation. Employees, customers, suppliers and other interested parties affected by the collapse of Carillion should visit or call 0800 063 9282.

Secretary of State Greg Clarke, with support from the small business minister Andrew Griffiths, is chairing a taskforce to monitor and advise on mitigating the impacts of Carillion’s liquidation on construction firms, particularly SMEs and those working in the sector. The taskforce’s attendees include representatives from leading business bodies, the construction trade sector, unions, banks and government.

Meanwhile the CITB has confirmed that in partnership with the Government and employers it is establishing a project team that will prioritise the retention and redeployment of the 1,400 apprentices employed by Carillion.

[SOURCE – TileZine]

Subbies will struggle to get Carillion payments

Sub-contractors, including tilers, working on Carillion projects have been urged to ‘continue as normal’ despite a warning that they might struggle to get hold of money owed by the stricken giant.

Yesterday (15 January) six experts from accountancy firm PWC were appointed as ‘special managers’ with court-handed powers to support the liquidator of the £4 billion-turnover contracting, development and support services conglomerate.

PWC, which said it would be writing to Carillion’s suppliers shortly, added in a statement: ‘Unless advised otherwise, all agents, subcontractors and suppliers should continue to work and provide goods and services as normal, under their existing contracts, terms and conditions.

‘You will get paid for goods and services you supply from the date of the official receiver’s appointment onwards. Over the coming days we will review supplier contracts and we’ll contact you concerning these soon. Goods and services you supply during the liquidation will be paid for.’

But Construction Products Association economics director Noble Francis said there could be a bumpy road ahead for anyone already owed by Wolverhampton-based Carillion.

He said: ‘The media will understandably focus on the 20,000 Carillion employees, but an even bigger issue is likely to be the smaller firms in the supply chain, whether they are architects, sub-contractors or suppliers, as they are more reliant on cash flow and won’t get bailed out by the government.

‘The rest of the supply chain may struggle to get payment from Carillion now, particularly smaller firms. It’s difficult to measure the extent of the issue at this stage.’

David Birne, insolvency partner at accountancy firm HW Fisher & Company, said it was ‘extremely rare’ for a company Carillion’s size to opt for a liquidation – where a company’s assets are sold and it is then closed down – rather than an administration.

‘It suggests there is little, if anything, of value within the company to be saved,’ he warned. ’There will undoubtedly be a knock-on effect for companies that supply Carillion that will go all the way down the supply chain to the smallest firms.’

(SOURCE: Architects Journal)

Anti-dumping tarrifs renewed

The European Commission has decided to extend the duties levied on Chinese ceramic tile imports for a further five years to November 2022. The tariff will be at the same level as previously since 2011 (ranging between 30.6% and 69.7% depending on whether the Chinese exporters cooperated with the investigations or not.)

The review has taken more than a year and found in favour of the European ceramics industry represented by the European Ceramic Tile Manufacturers’ Federation CET. There was a focus on the continued practice of dumping by Chinese exporters, as well as the level of China’s overcapacity, equivalent to four times the EU’s entire tile output.

In view of Brexit, the UK will now have an option of whether to follow the EU tariff, or to set its own in individual discussions with China. So the industry needs good transitional arrangements in place during the process of exiting the EU, to ensure that the interests of the few remaining UK manufacturers are protected as far as possible.

TTA secures CSCS card funding

The Tile Association has secured funding from the CITB for the provision of assessor infrastructure for the wall and floor tiling sector across the UK to support quality assured assessment of experience operatives to NVQ L2.

Part funding is also available for NVQ EWPAR/OSAT training, which will help fixers obtain their CSCS cards.

Having independent NVQ assessors will help the TTA strengthen its training activities and make it easier for companies and independent fixers to access the training support they need, and the aim is that eight new NVQ assessors will be trained over the next 18 months.

This initiative will benefit the industry by promoting and supporting a skilled and qualified workforce, which will stimulate the market by providing a route to qualification for experienced operatives via on-site assessment.

The training comprises a one-day course which can be carried out at either of BAL’s Training Centres, which are located in Trentham and Bristol. Assessors can also visit customers on-site, although there would be an additional charge for this.

The training costs £500 for TTA members and £600 for non-TTA members. Both are subject to a £68 registration fee. On successful completion of the course, candidates will receive a refund of £210 of their fee. Independent fixers are entitled to claim a £100 refund if they join the TTA.

Dates for the first sessions have been agreed. These will take place at the BAL Innovation & Technology Centre in Trentham on 21 November, 28 November, 30 November, 12 December and 14 December. Anyone interested should contact Elaine Proctor at the TTA on or by telephoning 0300 365 8453.

TTA secured CITB funding for training

The TTA has secured CITB part-funding to train eight new NVQ assessors over the next 18 months.

The aim of the funding is to provide an assessor infrastructure for the wall and floor tiling sector across the UK which will support quality assured assessment of experienced operatives to NVQ L2. Part funding will also be available for NVQ EWPAR/OSAT training, which is designed to help fixers obtain their CSCS cards.

Having independent NVQ assessors will help the TTA strengthen its training activities and make it easier for companies and independent fixers to access the training support they need.

It is also the intention to promote and support a skilled and qualified workforce, which will stimulate the market and uptake by providing a route to qualification for experienced operatives via on-site assessment.

The capacity to register learners to this programme will be greatly improved by the addition of eight new assessors. TTA will research and identify suitable candidates from within the sector to take on the role of assessor, and will give full support to the assessors both during the training process and throughout the EWPAR/OSAT of experienced operatives.

This is also an important response from the TTA to the withdrawal of the Construction Related Occupation (CRO) card in March, which has affected 230,000 cardholders. This card did not require the holder to obtain a nationally recognised construction-related qualification and therefore did not meet the expectations of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC). A number of CRO occupations have qualifications that currently don’t meet the nationally recognised standard for those skilled occupations. The TTA initiative will give new entrants to the sector and others an additional route through which to gain the appropriate training.

The TTA will now undertake direct marketing to raise awareness, identify learners and link to assessors in addition to marketing to employers outside of membership in order to reach the whole sector.

The TTA has also been working with the CITB to set up a new funding scheme to assist companies with up to 99 employees with their training needs.

This comes within the CITB’s Skills & Training Flexible Fund, which supports small and micro employers, and specialist federations with the delivery of training and upskilling.

Applications for up to £10k funding are now open and will remain open until 20 November 2017.  Full information is available on the CITB website. TTA members can either apply by emailing or can contact the TTA.


TTA warns members on cyber security

It’s a hot topic at the moment – cyber risk is now a subject touched upon on many occasions and is of increasing importance to businesses.

Cyberlock web

A recent report (IBM X-Force Research: 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index) found that 60% of cyber attacks were as a result of insider activity. According to the TTA’s insurance partner, Jelf, “insider” generally means “employee”.

The action that leads to a cyber attack might well be that of unintentional negligence (for example the simple opening of a web-link in an email), but it should also be recognised that in some cases the cause will be linked with direct malicious intent by the insider or employee concerned.

The business and reputational damage that can be caused by such an attack are of course considerable, and the recent global ransomware attack that caused chaos across almost 100 countries worldwide and majorly disrupted the UK’s National Health Service really highlights the potential impact of such an eventuality.

So it would appear self-evident that the “people factor” in cyber attacks should be a significant concern for all business, and by extension their HR functions. However Jelf say that when they highlighted this risk at one of the company’s London events last year, some people said that this subject was not relevant to the audience, and indeed had no place in an event targeted at those in Human Resources.

A similar theme was evident in the 2017 Jelf Employee Benefits Survey. For instance:

When did you last review the “people factor” cyber risk in your organisation?

In the last 12 months: 22.16%
Between 1 and 3 years ago: 5.41%
More than 3 years ago: 2.16%
Never: 23.24%
Don’t know: 47.03%

According to Jelf: “It would therefore appear that few HR units are regularly looking at this situation, and this is surely a dynamic that needs to change if the “people factor” risk to organisations is to reduce.

“So this is an area where we would strongly urge HR departments to actively ‘own’ the people factor inherent in cyber risk with the introduction of strong systems and protocols from the date of employment onwards.”

And from an Employee Benefits perspective caution is urged. Employers should seek to ensure that their choice of Employee Benefits platform is both robust and secure, and to undertake a regular review of all password protocols. In addition there should be a detailed audit of any automated employee data flow between Payroll, HR, and Employee Benefit providers to identify and resolve potential weaknesses.

The bottom line is that Human Resources professionals have a key role to play in managing and mitigating this risk, and it is no longer sufficient to expect this problem to be owned by the employer’s IT team alone.

For more information on this subject please speak to your usual Jelf Consultant in the first instance. And for more details about Cyber Insurance protection for businesses please follow this link.


Parties lay out their Manifesto plans for construction

Labour has vowed to create a new Department of Housing aimed at tackling the UK’s housing crisis, extend High Speed 2 to Scotland and ensure Crossrail 2 is built.

polling station

In its 128-page fully-costed general election manifesto, launched in Bradford, Labour said it would increase spending by £48.6bn a year but raise an extra £48.6bn in tax.

Among the pledges, the party said it will build at least 100,000 council homes a year and double the number of apprenticeships at NVQ level 3 by 2022.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry welcomed Labour’s joined up approach on housing and skills.

But he added: ”While Labour’s ambitious targets on housebuilding…are welcome, there is little to address the fundamental issue of industry capacity.”

Labour also vowed to invest £250bn in infrastructure over 10 years, if elected. Other costed manifesto pledges include creating a National Education Service for England to close the skills gaps, supporting UK supply chains by targeting government support where there are gaps, committing extra investment in research and by capping energy costs and investing in new publically owned energy provision.

RICS’ parliamentary affairs manager Lewis Johnston said: “This is the kind of ambition for infrastructure we have called for…and we’re glad to see it given such prominence.”

Meanwhile the Conservatives have dropped Crossrail 2 from their manifesto, while the Party has also come under fire for raising the cost of hiring foreign workers and sticking to its pledge to cut immigration to the 10s of thousands.

A report by the employer-backed Global Future says a net inward migration flow of 200,000 people a year is required to avoid the “catastrophic economic consequences” linked to Brexit.

The Global Future report says the UK’s low productivity, ageing population and shortage of labour in key areas, such as construction, show that net migration of 200,000 will be needed annually.

Meanwhile, Theresa May has pledged to build new homes to help bring the cost of buying and renting down to a more affordable level.

Other construction commitments include pushing forward with HS2, a Northern Powerhouse Rail and expansion of Heathrow Airport.

Marie-Claude Hemming, director of external affairs for the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) commented:

“Should she remain in Number 10, Theresa May must ensure that there is no major change to the anticipated pipeline of work which could unsettle the markets or deter investors.

“CECA is particularly pleased that the Conservative manifesto includes a commitment to existing strategic investments such as High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, and expanding Heathrow Airport.

“At the same time, we believe there is scope for the Prime Minister to do more to provide clarity on major projects that are not named in the manifesto, such as Crossrail 2, the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, and new nuclear power stations.

“The Prime Minister is right to be candid about the challenges facing the UK. However, if she is to deliver a strong and stable economy, she must ensure the infrastructure sector is prioritised as a primary driver of growth by providing greater clarity on these issues.”

Sarah McMonagle, director of external affairs at the Federation of Master Builders said:

“A revised house building target of 1.5 million homes from 2015 to 2022 ups the ante on housing delivery again, but these ambitions can only be delivered with an accompanying focus on creating a more diverse and innovative house building sector.

“The decline in the number and output of smaller local house builders over the past few decades has led to the industry’s capacity haemorrhaging. To deliver the PM’s vision we will need to reverse this.”

Launching their manifesto, The Liberal Democrats have committed to a £100 billion package of additional infrastructure investment. This will prioritise:

  • New direct spending on house-building to help build 300,000 homes a year by 2022.
  • A programme of installing hyper-fast, fibre optic broadband across the UK.
  • Capital investment in schools and hospitals to support capacity increases and modernisation.
  • Significant investment in road and rail infrastructure, including a continued commitment to HS2, Crossrail 2 and rail electrification.
  • Additional funding to bring more private investment into renewable energy.

Special accolade for SkillBuild Winner

The Worshipful Company of Tylers & Bricklayers recently made a special presentation to the 2016 winner of Skillbuild.

worshipful company of tilers

Gordon Cook from City of Glasgow College, with his tutor Andrew Pollock, attended an Awards Evening hosted by the Worshipful Company at Trinity House in Central London in March.

The Awards lunch is an annual event, which seeks to reward individuals who have excelled in their various disciplines. The Awards are presented across three different craft categories –Wall & Floor Tiling, Roofing & Slating and Bricklaying.

Gordon Cook won the Wall & Floor Tiling Award at Skillbuild last year. In all, 78 competitors took part in the finals, which were held at the NEC in mid-November, spread across ten categories.

The TTA has a long history of support for SkillBuild as it attaches importance to the ongoing work to drive up skill levels in our industry, working with young independent fixers. Throughout the year the TTA does much through its Training Committee, on seminars, developing qualifications and promoting training awards.

Bob Howard MBE, TTA director and chairman of the Training Committee, says: “It was really inspiring to be able to recognise the achievements of this young man at the Annual Awards Event of the Worshipful Company of Tylers & Bricklayers. It was a prestigious event which reflected well on the efforts of the TTA to raise the bar even further with regard to training and skills development for young people who are just starting out in our industry.”



Six months in jail for CSCS card fraudster

A man who used a false name to work on UK construction sites has been sentenced to six months in jail.

Twenty-three year old Nigerian national, Gideon Emeka Okafor was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court following a Home Office and Construction Industry Training Board investigation.

Okafor was arrested in November 2016 and charged with using a fake French national identification card in order to obtain a Construction Skills Certification Scheme card in August 2015.

It is understood he then used the fake CSCS card to work illegally on construction sites in London for over a year.

Okafor was caught following a Home Office investigation into his false documentation.

Information from the CITB confirmed that a card had been issued in the name of ‘Patrice Beziat’ – Okafor’s alias.

Ian Sidney, Fraud Manager at CITB and former Police Superintendent, said: “CITB is working closely with the Home Office to keep fraud out of construction.

“We hope that the sentencing of this young man sends a message loud and clear to fraudsters – there’s no place for you in the construction industry and you will be caught.

“The case also highlights the need for employers to be vigilant in checking workers’ documentation and to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.

“Fraudsters on construction sites present a danger to themselves and others and we need to work together to stamp this activity out.”

What to do if you spot a fraudulent card

Employers are urged to conduct regular checks on cards either using CSCS smart card readers or the CITB online card checker on our website – please see attached link to check cards.

If you think you know someone using a fraudulent card you should:

Retain the card if possible
Make photocopies of front and back
Record cardholder’s name and address
Ask the cardholder where the card was obtained from
Call the local police and report the matter
Refuse access to site (subject to company rules)

Forward copies of all evidence to CITB Quality Assurance Team, Building 16, Bircham Newton, King’s Lynn, PE31 6RH, marked ‘SUSPECTED FRAUDULENT CARD’ with details of the crime number given by local police.

You can also email



Funding policy finalised for Apprenticeship Levy

The Government has published its final apprenticeship funding policy, which includes additional funding for young persons and apprentices from disadvantaged areas, and an extended period for large employers to use their apprenticeship funds.


Under the new funding policy, employers will receive £1,000 when they train young apprentices aged 16 to 18, or apprentices aged 19 to 24 who have previously been in care or who have a local authority education, health and care plan.

The increased funding is meant to offset the cost of training for this group.

The Government will also pay 100% of the training costs for apprentices from this group of young persons, where an employer is not required to pay the apprenticeship levy and has less than 50 employees.

The new funding policy allows training providers to receive a number of additional payments, including additional funding for training apprentices from disadvantaged areas in England, and higher funding bands for apprenticeship frameworks in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Under the final funding policy, employers that pay the apprenticeship levy  will have 24 months (up from 18) to spend their apprenticeship funds and, beginning in 2018, increased flexibility to transfer a portion of apprenticeship funds to other employers.

The apprenticeship levy will be set at 0.5% of an employer’s paybill. Each employer will have an annual allowance of £15,000, which will be offset against the levy. In effect, only employers with a paybill of more than £3 million will be liable to pay the levy.

Robert Halfon, skills minister, said: “Our apprenticeship levy will boost our economic productivity, increase our skills base and give millions a leg up on the ladder of opportunity – over 90% of apprentices currently go into work or further training. Making Britain a world leader on apprenticeships is essential if we truly want a country that works for everyone.”

The changes to apprenticeship funding are the result of feedback received on an initial funding policy published in August 2016. The new system will take effect in England beginning May 2017.



One in three homeowners regret DIY

Over a third of UK homeowners have regretted the results of a DIY project and wish they had called in a professional to do the work instead, according to a new survey.

Home services marketplace’s latest survey has found that over a third (35%) of UK homeowners have regretted the results of a DIY project and wish that they had called in a professional to handle it.

As the property ladder has become unsteady since the UK vote for Brexit, a poll by home services marketplace found that home improvements have become the more attractive option for homeowners, rather than uprooting and moving on. Depending on the size of the project, many attempt the work unsupervised in an effort to save money.

However, according to Plentific’s statistics, one in three find their results less than pleasing, and in retrospect, would have chosen to hire a specialist instead.

The younger generation struggle most with DIY, as half (48%) of those aged 18-34 said they have regretted their past results. This high percentage may be down to them being relatively fresh on the property ladder and having yet to gain the relevant experience in DIY. It seems 18-34-year-olds would save time, effort and enjoy a more pleasing end result by hiring in a specialist.

The stats show a variation of DIY skill levels across the UK and stress that despite certain cities being more DIY-inclined, there is a demand for trade professionals nationwide.

Stephen Jury, spokesperson for Plentific, said: “Cases of regretful DIY projects are not unheard of, however these new statistics from Plentific show just how often they occur. It’s interesting to see that half of the young homeowners have DIY regrets. In this current digital world, these statistics could highlight the lack of DIY knowledge in younger homeowners, and emphasise their lack of confidence when carrying out projects which their parents may have more success with.”


Why not advertise your services on our “Find a Tiler” facility which appears on the first page of Google? Sign-up of sign-in to YOU+BAL to create your free web profile to quote for jobs and get great reviews.

TTA to host demo zone at The Tiling Zone

September sees the launch of the UK’s first dedicated tiling event for many years.


The Tiling Show is to be held at the Harrogate International Centre from 18th to 20th September and will run alongside The Flooring Show, an event which has been running for 52 years and is still seeing year-on-year visitor number increases.

Ian Kershaw, Chairman of The Tile Association, says: “The TTA is delighted to be partnering with the prestigious Harrogate Flooring Show to create the first-ever Tiling Show. After a number of years without a dedicated tiling event for the UK market, we view the launch of The Tiling Show as a very welcome development.

“It will be somewhere that our members and others in the tiling sector can do business, network, learn about the key trends and view product demonstrations. We are committed to playing our part in developing The Tiling Show into a new and unique platform for our industry.”

As well as having a fully-staffed stand at The Show, the TTA will be running a Demonstration Zone, which is likely to become a key attraction for every visitor to the Show. The Zone will host a packed programme of demonstrations running throughout each of the first two days of the Show and until lunchtime on the third day. Presenting companies include BAL and Warmup.

The topics covered will include the cutting of tiles, decoupling mats, large format tiles, expansion joints, wet rooms, mosaics, epoxy grouts and the use of natural stone tiles.

Dave Rowley from BAL will be presenting on:

18th September –

10.30 Introduction and Application of Levelling Compounds (BAL LEVEL MAX) over Heated Cables

15:00 Fixing of Large Format Porcelain Tiles (BAL STONE AND TILE PTB)

19th September –

13:30 Fixing of Ceramic Glass Mosiacs (BAL MAX FLEX FIBRE)

15:00 Grouting Mosiacs (BAL MICROMAX2)


The full programme of seminars in the TTA Demo Zone is to be found on the Show website


Apprentice wins Gold at SkillBuild NI – supported by BAL.

Daniel McBurney achieved Gold in Wall and Floor Tiling, after competing against other apprentices at South West College, Technology and Skills Centre Enniskillen.

Skillbuild NI, run and governed by CITB NI, is held annually each spring with the top local construction apprentices competing to win coveted titles ranging from brickwork to wall and floor tiling.

BAL have supported SkillBuild for a number of years, with Training Manager Dave Rowley acting as lead judge since 2009 and the company providing materials.

The winners may then go on to represent Northern Ireland in the Skills Show UK and potentially at WorldSkills.

Eight other Southern Regional College apprentices were also awarded at the SkillBuild NI Finals.

“It reflects the high standards of training in our Colleges and the commitment to excellence demonstrated by the competitors. As with all skills competitions, Skillbuild NI is about raising the status and standards of professional and technical education and training.

“We have a proud record of success at skills competitions not only on a local level but also on a regional, national and world level.

“I congratulate the ten young competitors who have been selected to represent the UK Squad, and I look forward to seeing how many progress to the prestigious Worldskills competition in Abu Dhabi in 2017.”

The competition encourages trainees to improve their own skills and provides an example of the high quality work being produced in training organisations and colleges across NI.

The Skillbuild test pieces are designed to challenge the ability of apprentices, testing skills within tight timeframes and the competitors are being continuously assessed throughout the competition.

The competition has the support of local construction employers who sponsor each category, and has the overall support from the Department for Employment and Learning, Construction Employers Federation, Haldane Fisher, City and Guilds, Colleges NI, Federation of Master Builders and Subway.

Maurice Johnston, Chairman CITB NI said: “CITB NI is proud to have been involved in construction competitions for almost 40 years.

(SOURCE: Banbridge Leader)

Trainee Tilers excel at The Skills Show National Final

A trainee tiler from Northern Ireland scooped the wall and floor tiling gold medal at the Skills Show at Birmingham’s NEC.

The gold medal went to Kieran Magee from Southern Regional College in Northern Ireland; silver went to Jack Radford from Nottingham’s New College and Lee Jones from Cardiff and Vale College picked up the bronze medal.

Aaron Hilton from Leeds College of Building and Christopher Weston from Cardiff and Vale College received Highly Commended awards.

Kieran Magee and Jack Radford were also named in Squad UK to train towards selection for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi in 2017. They join Armondos Tamulis from Southern Regional College in the squad.

The Tile Association is the lead competition supplier for the wall and floor tiling competition and provided the prizes for the gold, silver and bronze medal winners. As well as a cheque, medal winners will also receive a Bellotta Pro 55 Tile Cutter. BAL provided adhesives for the competition, with tiles supplied by Johnson Tiles and trims by Schluter. Suretile, meanwhile, supplied a Tiletracker system for each finalist.

The wall and floor tiling competition was one of 58 trade finals held at The Skills Show this year. Regional heats took place at colleges across the UK under the watchful eye of Dave Rowley from BAL, chairman of the Tile Association’s supply chain training committee. Finalists then moved on to the national event at The Skills Show.

Congratulations to all the young tilers who were invited to take part in the final:

Sovandeth Chin — Leeds College of Building
Daniel Griffin — St Helens College
Aaron Hilton — Leeds College of Building
Aaron Horrobin — Cardiff and Vale College
Lee Jones — Cardiff and Vale College
Kieran Magee — Southern Regional College
Jack Radford — New College, Nottingham
Armondas Tamulis — Southern Regional College
Christopher Weston — Cardiff and Vale College
Patrick Wong — South and City College Birmingham
Malcolm Worley — St Helens College


Trainee tilers to compete for national title at The Skills Show

The best trainee tile fixers from across the UK will be competing for the national title at this year’s Skills Show in November. The Tile Association is the lead competition supplier for the wall and floor tiling competition and is providing the prizes for the gold, silver and bronze medal winners.

The Skills Show is the UK’s leading skills and careers event for young people and takes place from 19th to 21st November at the NEC in Birmingham. The wall and floor tiling competition is one of 60 trade finals being held.

Regional heats have taken place at colleges across the UK this year under the watchful eye of Dave Rowley from BAL, chairman of the TTA’s supply chain training committee.

Finalists now move on to the national event at The Skills Show, where they will aim to become UK champion. Those who excel may be selected to train in Squad UK to represent their country at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.

Tiling companies are also doing their bit to support the competition and the finalists.

As well as a cheque from the TTA, medal winners will also receive a Bellotta Pro 55 Tile Cutter.

BAL is providing the adhesives for the competition, with tiles supplied by Johnson Tiles and trims by Schluter. Suretile, meanwhile, is supplying a Tiletracker system for each finalist, which they will be able to keep after the event.

Each finalist will receive a toolbag — if your company would like to donate items to go in it, please email as soon as possible.

There is lots more information about this year’s Skills Show at


To find out more about how we’re supporting the tilers of tomorrow click here.