Why Compliance is a Strategy not a Target
Compliance requirements have changed beyond recognition since we founded in 2008. Successive Governments have massively increased the legislation and their vigilance with monitoring and enforcement. As a result, our clients also demand far greater compliance capability than 13 years ago.
Whilst it’s tempting to see it as a cost – and it is a big investment every year – at The Shore Group we view compliance as a core part of our brand ideal and our overall business strategy. When you step back from the processes and checks, the fundamental need that we’re playing a crucial role in is making sure that construction sites are safe, that our workers are protected from risks like modern slavery and low pay, and that the supply chain is robust. Legislation aside, these are all things that are simply right to do.
The Risks We Manage
The Compliance Division at The Shore Group sits at the heart of the business and works directly with clients and with the other Shore Group divisions. Our team focuses on three key areas of risk; workers, sub-contractors and clients.
With workers and operatives, our checks include proof of ID, proof of right to work, worker tax status and skills card checks. In theory these should be fairly straight-forward however we see frequent attempts to circumvent these with false documentation. The level can be as high as 15% failing the documentation checks in any given week.
These can be highly sophisticated digital forgeries which is why we utilize specialised identity document validation checking services as part of our processes. Bearing in mind we’re helping manage risks including modern slavery and illegal working it is imperative that we complete the checks. Co-founder James Hobden has been integral to the development of The Shore Group’s Compliance division. “The worrying part is that these workers may well still end up working on site if they’ve working via an agency with fewer or less robust checks than we have. This is why is so important we work with our clients to ensure that the whole supply chain is robust and compliant.” With sub-contractors our focus switches to checks for CIS compliance, VAT accounting and payment, modern slavery and potential mis-treatment of workers. As with many of these checks, the work we do goes beyond box ticking. With the HMRC enforcement for non-compliance and non-payment of VAT working through the supply chain based on the Kittel principle, our in-depth checks manage risk for both The Shore Group and our clients too. “We have to know who each business is and what they’re doing. It’s not enough to say, “we checked”. We want proof that PAYE is being paid, proof that corporation tax is being paid, a copy of the HRMC Gateway showing that everything is up-to-date, and more. We do a lot more due diligence than other businesses because we’re know how vital it is in protecting our workers and our supply chain.” We work with approximately 500 clients at any one time and the nature of our business means that we’re working on major projects every day and that we’re responsible for paying thousands of workers at any one time. As such making sure that the clients we work with are genuine businesses, creditworthy and have appropriate credit limits is critical to the security of The Shore Group, and our supply chain. Our compliance and finance team monitor this risk in real-time to manage our exposure to bad debt.
Compliance and Our Accreditations
Our compliance process is underpinned by the extensive accreditations to make sure our processes are robust, comprehensive and repeatable. Our accreditations include ISO27001, ISO9001, ISO 45001, Achilles and CHAS compliance and risk management.
“Our accreditations help us think beyond simply documenting a process and giving it to the team. They drive to you look at what you're doing, work out why you're doing it, ask yourself whether you’re doing it the best way, then document it and then continually improve it. When you embrace this in your culture, then the ISO accreditation will make it better.”
Measures not Targets
As a key business metric, compliance is something we track in real-time and is part of our business scorecard that we review at Board level. We don’t view this reporting as monitoring performance against a target. We measure compliance performance against the business requirement of absolute compliance. The risks are too great to view it as anything other.
“It has to be 100%. You can't have any less than that. So it’s absolutely a business requirement.” Zero is the only number of illegal workers that is ever acceptable. 100% is the only number of trained and qualified tradespeople you want on a construction site. The punishments for non-compliance are significant and some have criminal liabilities, but beyond this, there’s a very human cost and risk that we play a critical role in protecting.
Compliance and Our Brand Ideal
Compliance fits perfectly with our brand ideal philosophy. Ultimately, by making sure we have the right processes and systems in place, we’re making life better for clients, workers, our team and the community.
We’re making potentially dangerous working environments and the communities they are in safer, we’re protecting workers from exploitation, and we’re helping our clients by driving up the quality of the projects we support.
Our Compliance Strategy
Compliance at The Shore Group is far from a paper exercise, it’s a strategy that allows us to manage very real risks, comprehensively and effectively. Our belief is that the investment we make in compliance gives us a competitive edge in the sectors we work in too.
We keep up-to-date on the latest regulatory legislation and rulings with extensive team training, industry engagement and expert advice from industry experts. In particular with work closely with Aspire Business Partnership whose extensive annual audit of our systems, help keep our processes ahead of the game.
It’s why we have a fully transparent approach to compliance with our clients. We welcome client reviews and audits of our compliance systems. Beyond this, by pro-actively partnering with clients our aim is to support compliance throughout the supply chain making sure we protect client risks at the same time as protecting our own.
If you’d like to know more about Compliance at The Shore Group and potential risks within your supply chain, contact us here.