Who are UKAS?
The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the only National Accreditation Body in the United Kingdom. UKAS, recognised by government, assesses and regulates organisations that provide certification services.
The UK Government recommends UKAS-backed certification, and they expect organisations to submit UKAS certificates during the pre-qualification questionnaire stage of tenders. So, if you want your certificate to be accepted everywhere, it must be issued by a UKAS accredited body. You can check if a certification body is accredited via the UKAS website.
Are there alternatives?
No. Some Certification Bodies claim to have ‘alternative’ accreditation, but that’s not the same as UKAS. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), who oversee UKAS, recently made this statement after recent activities by organisations, claiming to be ‘accredited’ by bodies other than UKAS:
‘It is BIS’s legal opinion that ‘Accreditation’ within the meaning of the Regulation can only be obtained (in the UK) from UKAS.
Therefore, any organisation that is suggesting it is accredited in the sense of the Regulation when they are not is likely to be guilty of an offence under the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 (Statutory Instrument 2008/1276).
Certification Bodies or representative organisations should refer these cases to trading standards or the Office of Fair Trading.’
What are the risks?
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) recently reported that their members have been targeted by unaccredited Certification Bodies, offering cut-price certification. Members thought it was a good deal but in the end it proved costly (thus the old adage of ‘buy cheap, buy twice’).
Every day, we’re contacted by companies who’ve spent money on a certificate from a non-UKAS Certification Body only to find that:
– They were disqualified from tenders
– They had to start the process from scratch
– They had no come-back with an unregulated body
– They suffered from reputational damage
– They weren’t deriving any internal benefits from certification