A shortage of qualified staff to deal with increasing subsidence claims could allow "cowboys" back into the industry.

The chairman of the Association of Specialist Underpinning Contractors (ASUP), Vic Handley, has called on insurers and loss adjusters to take care who they employ to deal with the increased level of claims resulting from last year's long hot summer.

Handley said: "If insurers go down the road of giving the work to companies they do not know then it will create a major problem in the industry. It is up to insurers and loss adjusters to make sure they do not encourage cowboys."

The ASUP is holding a seminar on 18 March in London to examine the problem of the skill deficit in the industry.