IMI calls for mechanics to be licenced

IMI (Institute for the Motor Industry) has written to the first minister Nicola Sturgeon, asking the Scottish Parliament to support a License to Practice for car mechanics and for the SNP to take up the issue in Westminster.

Prior to the General Election – IMI asked the Scottish parliament to consider legislation independently but since the publication of the Scotland Act it is clear this cannot happen. IMI is now seeking support from the First Minister for support to persuade David Cameron to protect consumers and promote responsible businesses.

In his letter to the First Minister IMI CEO Steve Nash said, ‘The Prime Minister has acknowledged a problem of consumer trust exists in the unregulated retail motor industry, but he has admitted it would be difficult for the Government to support a licence to practice for technicians on the grounds of Conservative ideological opposition to what they call ‘red tape’.

‘Unfortunately the Scotland Act withholds the right for the Scottish Parliament to enact the necessary legislation, but it would still be significant for drivers in Scotland and across the UK if you could lend the support of the Parliament and the support of your Party in Westminster to the campaign for a licence for automotive technicians.’

The view of Scottish drivers mirrors those in the rest of the UK. Seventy per cent say they can’t confidently choose a garage or mechanic because there is insufficient information available for them to verify the competence or integrity of service providers. A spate of Trading Standards prosecutions of failing garages, including one against Halfords – recently covered in the national media, only confirms the suspicions of the driving public, 75% of who support the introduction of a licence for mechanics.

A majority of businesses in the sector are also in favour of licensing, that would involve technicians holding a recognised qualification and require them undergo a regular independent assessment of their skills. There are currently 140,000 mechanics operating in the UK, 13,000 in Scotland, roughly 80% of the workforce, whose skills and current competence IMI cannot verify.