FORS is to increase the frequency of site audits that gold members are required to undertake.

From 1 January, gold operators whose membership comes up for review will be required to commission a site audit every two rather than three years, at an estimated additional cost of £75 a year for large operators.

Currently the bronze-level site audit lasts two years for silver operators and three years for gold members.

However, FORS community partnership director John Hix reassured operators that there are no planned changes to the standard, and members will still be required to provide evidence of meeting the gold and silver requirements on an annual basis.

“A lot can happen in three years. The gold operators are the exemplar ones, nevertheless, three years is a long time not to have a full site-based audit,” he said.

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Hix said FORS also plans to encourage more smaller operators (between one and three vehicles) to progress to gold by abolishing the evidencing fee from 1 January.

“Small operators think our current pricing is a bit funny and does not offer a financial incentive to progress,” he said. “They were telling us that because of the combined silver and gold evidencing fee, for every other year, it actually gets more expensive to progress.

“If you’re a bigger operator you have multiple audits and you therefore save on those multiple audits, so it costs you less to progress [than a smaller business].”

Since the scheme went national in 2015 it has seen high levels of interest across the UK, Hix said, with 4,700 members currently.

There has also been international interest, with Australia and Brussels considering implementing  schemes similar to FORS.