New Guidence On Health & Safety Sentencing Now In Effect - 1 February 2016
No More Shortcuts On H&S! | New Court Guidance Massively Increases Penalties on ALL Health & Safety Failures As Of 1 February 2016
"Businesses have been sent a clear message today that the regulatory authorities expect health and safety to remain a key corporate priority, Boardrooms across the country will be taking note and, if they are not already doing so, directors should be pushing health and safety issues to the top of their agenda."
"Given the stark difference between the present and future regimes, many of those currently subject to proceedings may be well advised to enter early guilty pleas in appropriate cases in order to expedite their cases. Sentencing under the current regime may be preferable!" Quote by Laura Cameron (Taken From Out-Law.com)
Large companies will now face fines which could top £10 million when being prosecuted for the very worst health and safety failures, rising to a staggering £20 million for corporate manslaughter convictions under new sentencing guidelines as of February 01 2016. Not only will the businesses be open to these fines but individual company directors found guilty of "consent, connivance or neglect" in relation to the offence will also face potentially unlimited fines and prison sentences of up to 2 years.
Offending companies will be placed in one of several bands of turnover and once all financial details have been considered the size of the fine will be decided.
Beware that companies who are seen to be taking shortcuts, trying to save a few pounds or blatantly not following Health and Safety rules will be hit hard.
There are no short cuts and no excuses anymore.
Here are a few links where more details can be obtained.
Sentencing Council Definitive Guide Download,
healthandsafetyatwork.com and out-law.com
If you are in need of a Health and Safety Consultant then visit http://www.veritas-consulting.co.uk/. Veritas Consulting – Health and Safety Consultancy services help you manage workplace risk & comply with UK safety regulations.
Budget 2015 News For Buy-To-Let
Published in MSN Money
Buy-to-let investors have been left reeling by news in the Budget that a tax relief worth £14 billion to British buy-to-let landlords is set for the chop.
George Osborne announced that as part of a plan to 'level the playing field' between first time buyers and professional investors,
many landlords will no longer be able to offset all of their mortgage interest against their tax bill.
At the moment, investors pay tax on the income they get from buy-to-let properties, but they can subtract a number of things from their rental income first
- including the cost of any interest payments on their mortgage.
If they pay tax at 40%, they therefore get 40% tax relief on their mortgage interest.
In future this tax relief will be limited to basic rate tax.
The change was positioned as a boon for first-time-buyers who now compete for properties with people facing the same mortgage pressures as they do.
Lucian Cook, head of Savills UK residential research says: "This is likely to provide some comfort to younger generations of aspiring homeowners"
Read the full article on MSN
July is Scams Awareness Month
Published in MSN Money
July is Scams Awareness Month, a campaign from Citizens Advice and Trading Standards aimed at improving our ability to spot and avoid scams.
Thousands of people fall for telephone scams each year. And it's not just vulnerable people who get conned - professionals, professors, and even a bank manager have fallen prey to some of the tricks detailed in this article.
The Scams Awareness Month tagline this year is “Don’t be rushed, don’t be hushed”.
That’s particularly appropriate when it comes to telephone scams, where people call out of the blue offering investing opportunities with apparently phenomenal returns, say your computer has a virus when it doesn't or pretend to be working for your bank.
So let’s take a closer look at just how 10 common telephone scams work, and how to protect yourself. The article is found on MSN Money >> http://www.msn.com/en-gb/money/personalfinance/10-phone-scams-to-watch-out-for/ar-AAcvNBO
Scammed! - Four out of five victims conned out of their cash are aged over 55
Published in Telegraph Media Group Limited
People aged over 55 could be four times more likely than the general population to become victims of a telephone scam where fraudsters pose as a bank or the police, according to figures from the financial ombudsman.
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) reviewed 185 phone scam cases involving "vishing" and "no hang up" frauds.
It found that four out of five of the victims conned out of their cash were aged over 55 years old. One in five victims was aged over 75 years old.
The cases involved total losses of up to £4.3m. One in five people had lost between £20,000 and £49,999 and some victims had lost more than £100,000.
The ombudsman service is urging people visiting relatives over the summer to highlight the risks and help prevent such scams from happening.
Vishing scams involve criminals tricking people out of their savings by pretending to be from a legitimate body such as their bank or the police.
The "no hang up" scam is a type of vishing, where fraudsters persuade consumers that their account is at immediate risk and tell them that they need to move or withdraw their money urgently, using technical tricks on the phone line to add to the plausibility of the scam.
Sometimes, fraudsters stay on the phone line after speaking to the victim, so that when the victim puts the phone down and then tries to call their bank,
they will still be speaking to the fraudster.
Read the full story at the Telegraph
Housing Shortage Solution - Prefabricated homes could provide cheaper and greener houses
Published in Telegraph Media Group Limited
Flat-pack” houses could end Britain’s housing crisis which is pushing property prices beyond many first-time buyers’ reach, causing them to abandon hopes of home ownership.
Embracing “modular homes”, where large parts of a property are manufactured in factories and then transported to building sites for final assembly, would speed up house building, according to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME).
In a new report the body argues that modular homes would help the UK build the 250,000 new homes needed each year for the next two decades as the population booms, compared with the current rate of about 120,000.
Read full story published in the Telegraph here >> Flat-pack homes could help solve UK's housing crisis
David Cameron unveils proposals to boost home ownership
Published in BBC News
New measures to help people buy and build houses will feature in this week's Budget, the government has said.
David Cameron announced plans to build discounted homes for first-time buyers under 40 and use public land for homes.
The measures - including a plan announced before the election to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants - form part of the Housing Bill.
Inheritance tax on homes worth up to £1m will also end, it was confirmed.
"Having your own place is an important stake in our economy," the prime minister and Chancellor George Osborne wrote in a joint article in the Times, ahead of Wednesday's budget.
"We don't want this to be a country where if you're rich you can buy a home, but if you're less well off you can't."
The Right to Buy scheme, which already applies to most council tenants, will be extended to 1.3 million housing association tenants, who will get a discount of up to 70% to buy their own home.
Defending the schemes against those who think it will reduce the housing stock, Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne wrote: "By helping people to own their own home, through Right to Buy, we can turn tenants into homeowners and reduce housing benefit bills.
"And by selling off the most expensive council houses when they become vacant we can replace every home we sell - whether an expensive council house or one though Right to Buy."
The full article is on the BBC News Service - Click here to read it
SMEs Not Taking Proper Care Of Their Vans
MOT failures on company vans and cars set back SMEs £350m last year, with extra unplanned maintenance works costing each company an average of £4,300.
Published in http://www.smeinsider.com
Senior management confessed that the main reasons for repeated need for repairs were bad driving and poor maintenance rather than accidents or roads that are in poor condition.
Furthermore, many SMEs admitted that they weren’t maintenance-savvy enough and don’t know how to check for problems that can lead to high repair bills.
The report, carried out by vehicle leasing company Lex Autolease, found that a quarter of UK SMEs have failed an MOT, whilst four out of ten SME owners have admitted to driving a company car with an acknowledged fault.
The survey of 500 UK SMEs with company-owned vehicles has revealed that in addition to the cost of failed MOTs, unplanned trips to the garage not only cost £4,300 on average, but also 1.4 days each last year.
Just over half of SMEs (51 per cent) have actually confessed that their most recent trip to the garage was due to their own poor maintenance and bad driving.
“Our findings prove that vehicle maintenance isn’t considered a priority by many. By taking simple steps to ensure vehicles are routinely checked and drivers are able to spot the signs of disrepair, businesses could save themselves unnecessary downtime and expense,” said Simon Barter, Head of SME Direct at Lex Autolease.
We Want Plumbers not Footballers as Neighbours
People would rather have a plumber, electrician or doctor as a neighbour than politicians or footballers, according to a new report.
Skilled workers were the most valued neighbours, rather than professionals such as lawyers or musicians, a survey of 2,000 adults found.
Education charity the Edge Foundation said its study found that people often call on a neighbour for practical help if a boiler or car breaks down, while few think of asking someone for legal or medical advice.
The 10 most valued professions were said to include plumber, electrician, doctor, builder and mechanic, while the least valued included actor, politician and psychologist.
Dave Harbourne, acting chief executive of the Edge Foundation, said: “Over a third of us cite helpfulness as the most important quality in our neighbours.
“Whilst ‘everybody needs good neighbours’ still rings true, our research shows that it is the technical, practical and vocational skills that really add value to communities.”
The report was published to mark VQ Day, which highlights vocational qualifications.
Read more: http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/New-report-says-want-plumbers-neighbours/story-26670173-detail/story.html
Fife Tradesman Fined For Falsely Displaying Logos
A FIFE trader who illegally displayed logos has been fined £1500 at Dunfermline Sheriff Court.
The man, who fraudulently claimed to be registered with Gas Safe and illegally displayed both the Gas Safe logo and an Enhanced Disclosure Scotland logo, plead guilty to charges under Consumer Protection legislation.
Misuse of logos is a serious issue which can result in vulnerable members of the community being exploited. Not only does the use of such logos give consumers a false sense of security in relation to inviting any dishonest traders to come into their homes, but it also adds the potential danger of unqualified persons carrying out any work.
The public associate quality workmanship with recognised logos and put their faith in the workmen doing a good job. Any person or company falsely displaying a logo is likely to reduce the public’s trust in it and unscrupulous traders can and do display logos when they are not authorised to do so.
Fife consumers are urged to check that traders who claim to be a member of an association are genuine members prior to agreeing to work being carried out.
Fife Trading Standards treat the misuse of logos very seriously and are continuing their efforts in tackling this growing problem in order to prevent people wrongly putting trust in someone carrying out work for them based on a logo.
Cllr Kennedy, chair of Fife Council’s safer communities committee, said, “This is an excellent result for Trading Standards and shows that the recent changes towards intelligence-led working, which allows for more targeted resources to deal with areas of greatest harm and detriment to consumers, is starting to have an effect.”
Anyone who suspects a trader or company misusing a logo should report their concerns to Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
Original article published here Dunfermline Press
Roof Colapsed On Contractor As Firm Failed To Plan The Work Properly
We use articles like this to remind both our members and the public at large of the grave dangers involved with construction work and the dangers involved due to the lack of planning of any work undertaken. Great consideration should always be given to when and where the work will be done, the appropriate tools to be used and any permits that may be required before work begins.
An Ayrshire construction contractor has been fined for serious safety failings after part of a roof fell on a worker during demolition.
The 68 year old male construction worker suffered severe injuries in the incident as he helped demolish a chalet.
Mr Mullen and two other employees were tasked to demolish a single story timber framed chalet which had been the park’s former reception.
On the day of the incident, they used hand tools and did not have or use any props or supports for the task. They removed the doors and windows as well as a wall at the rear of the chalet.
Later that day while picking up waste from the ground and taking it to a skip the front roof section of the chalet fell suddenly forward over the remaining part of the front wall of the chalet, which also collapsed beneath it. The two colleagues ran to the rear of the building and jumped out of the way of the collapsing roof, which had slid forward 2.5 metres. The collapsed roof section, weighing around 600kg, came to rest on top of Mr Mullen trapping him there.
Mr Mullen who was taken to hospital with ten broken ribs, a broken left shoulder blade, a collapsed lung, a tear in his spleen and severely bruised kidneys. He spent four months in hospital and still suffers pain as a result of his injuries.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that John Gordon Black had failed to assess the risk of the chalet having an unplanned structural collapse before the demolition work began and subsequently failed to plan the work properly.
There was also no written arrangement for carrying out the demolition work, as required under Regulation 29 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 for this type of work and there was no exclusion zone around the demolition area meaning the workers had to work within the footprint of the building and on top of the roof as they were demolishing it, clearly exposing them to risks to their safety.
The partially collapsed chalet was ultimately demolished using a long reach excavator, without the need to have workers or others exposed to risk during the demolition.
“This was an entirely avoidable incident. The risks associated with demolition activity are well known and long standing. Demolition, dismantling and structural alteration are high risk activities which require careful planning and execution by contractors who are competent in the full range of demolition techniques.
“In this case, demolition using hand tools meant workers were unnecessarily exposed to the risk of structural collapse. It would have been safer to use a long reach excavator, which was subsequently brought in to complete the demolition following the incident.
“Ultimately, the system of work planned by John Gordon Black was unsafe, resulting in severe injuries which still affect Mr Mullen today.”
Successful HSE Prosecution After Overloaded Temporary Platform Collapse
Builder working on a platform over a stairwell that was loaded with almost 70 concrete blocks crashed to the floor below when it gave way resulting in a successful prosecution again the employer.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified concerns with the management of temporary works at the site.
Reading Crown Court heard that Mr Kersey was working on the last of 64 Bellway properties at Mitford Fields, and that the platform and methods used were consistent with others across the new build development.
However, HSE inspectors established that the platform wasn’t built to an approved design or checked for stability prior to being used. It was structurally unsound and the weight of the blocks combined with Mr Kersey was too much, causing it to fail. http://press.hse.gov.uk/2015/home-builder-in-court-for-platform-collapse/
Identifying Cruel Rogue Trader Scammers
How to identify curel rogue trader scammers
Trading Standards Officers are warning pensioners to be on their guard against rogue traders with this great advice after it appears that some
elderly are becoming repeat victims!
Tina Lewis, a senior consumer protection officer from Coventry Trading Standards, said: “One tactic that these criminals use is to befriend their victims.
If it’s a lady that opens the door they might point to the roof and say ‘I bet your husband would have done that for you’.
If it’s a gentleman they would say ‘I bet you would have been up that ladder 20 years ago’.
It might not be the same person who comes back but they might be from the same group.
You could call them organised criminals. That’s what they are – an organised criminal gang who are extremely difficult to track down.”
DECC Release SME Guide to Energy Efficiency - April 2015
No-one likes to waste things, whether it’s time, money or energy – especially when
profits are under pressure and margins are tight. This guide aims to save you
all three. While gas and electricity may not be your biggest bills, price volatility
means it’s an area well worth looking at.
The Government’s energy projections suggest energy price increases between
now and 2020. By installing energy efficiency measures, businesses can
take control of their energy use, reduce avoidable loss and cut their energy bills.
Based on experience, the average SME could reduce its energy bill by 18-25% by
installing energy efficiency measures with an average payback of less than 1.5 years.
And it is estimated 40% of these savings would require zero capital cost.
This practical guide is based on the real world experiences of a team of
professionals who’ve been helping companies improve their energy efficiency for decades,
so everything here is tried and tested.
SME energy efficiency guide
Is Today The Best Time To Look At Buying Solar Panels?
Is It Now Time To Get A Solar Roof Installation Or Will Panel Prices & Feed-in Tariff Payments Drop Equally?
The general concensus is that solar panel prices have dropped near to their lowest point as technology developed at such a rapid pace between 2010 and 2015. It should now be slowing significantly.
If you’re considering solar panels, buy now before the Feed-in Tariff Payments fall much more or dropped completely. This is something experts feel could happen. The governments commitment to growing the
renewable sector fluctuates between hugely enthusiastic and luke warm at the drop of a hat. One day solar is an absolute priority and the next its wind power generation. Planning permission for renewable technology
can be a gamble too at times.
This is because the technology – while it may get cheaper – is not guaranteed to fall steeply, whereas the feed-in tariff is predicted to drop or even be phased out.
The tariff is reviewed every three months, David Weatherall of the Energy Saving Trust said: “The Government wants to get to a point where there is no feed-in tariff,
because the solar panels are cost-effective on their own, compared with buying electricity from the grid."
Always use a trusted solar installation company, perhaps one of our FairTrades / HomePro members could be of help :) Click here
FairTrades Benefit Provider Set To Expand by 400 New Stores
More Great News For FairTrades / HomePro Members As Travis Perkins Tool and Equipment Hire Set To Expand By 400 New Branches
Builders’ merchant group Travis Perkins is planning to invest up to around £200m a year over the next four years so that they may open approximately 400 new branches throughout the
This will also create no less than 4000 new jobs for building and home improvement sector workers within their
business over the next 5 years.
Chief executive John Carter is reported to have said “Travis Perkins’ ability to create 4,000 new jobs
reflects confidence in our businesses, the markets we operate in and the UK economy as whole.”
Small Business Owners - Using Ladders Safely
Working from Ladders Is Dangerous and can get you in hot water if you don't take precautions,
if you don't train the staff in their use and especially if you take short cuts when trying to save money!
Ladders are easy to use, one expects that anyone can use one and knows how they should be used, BUT , this is not the case. Before you read the news item read this quick reminder on ladder safety for shop owners.
- Check ladder is in perfect working order, no bends or creases, stepps all secure, foot rubbers in place and not perished etc
- Check ladder is long enough to reach required height with a few feet to spare at least!
- Check ladder is the right ladder for the task at hand! Decorators ladders are not for cleaning gutters etc
- If working at heights and where possible ladders must be secured at the top via a rope or other method
- The operator should alsways have one hand free to hold on to the ladder
- Both feet and one hand should always be in contact with the ladder /stepladder
- Do not work off the top three rungs - they provide a handhold.
- NO LADDER should be used unless it has a second person footing the ladder
- Again, work should only be undertaken in pairs
Download this document today as a start, don't let someone get hurt because you think its ok, nothing will happen. Don't get caught out because you wanted to save £150 by not hiring a small scaffold platform for your staff. Click here to view
Shopfitter fined for worker's ladder fall
The article is here >> http://www.insidermedia.com/insider/midlands/136994-
A Birmingham shopfitting business has been prosecuted after a worker broke eight ribs in a ladder fall.
Wood machinist Alan Sweet was working at A Edmonds and Co Ltd's factory on Constitution Hill when the incident happened on 29 August 2014.
He was removing redundant electrical cabling in the factory's roof and sawing with both hands when he overbalanced and fell approximately 3.6 metres to the floor below.
Sweet, 55, of Great Barr, broke eight ribs, five of them in three places, cut his head, broke a finger and suffered lacerations to his shin, knee and elbow.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told Birmingham Magistrates' Court its investigation found Sweet, nor his colleague who was holding the ladder, had any training for working at height.
A Edmonds and Co was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £1,198 of costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
HSE inspector John Glynn said: "The factory had been rewired by an electrical contractor but A Edmonds and Co decided to task its employees with stripping out the redundant material in preference to them being laid off on a three-day week.
"However, the company failed to effectively organise and plan the work, gave them an inadequate ladder to use rather than a more suitable aluminium tower and failed to appropriately supervise and monitor what was going on.
"Mr Sweet was extremely lucky not to have suffered more serious injuries or even been killed."
15 Most Expensive UK Cities For Homes
UK'S 15 least affordable cities, with price-to-local earning ratio - March 2015
1.Oxford, South East, 10.89
2. Winchester, South East, 10.11
3. Cambridge, East Anglia, 9.76
4. Chichester, South East, 9.19
5. Brighton and Hove, South East, 9.10
6. Bath, South West, 8.83
7. Greater London, 8.75
8. Truro, South West, 8.61
9. Salisbury, South West, 8.43
10. Exeter, South West, 8.04
11. Southampton, South East, 7.55
12. Bristol, South West, 7.02
13. Lichfield, West Midlands, 6.95
14. Norwich, East Anglia, 6.88
15. Canterbury, South East, 6.85
Homeowners in Louth, Lincolnshire, Warned About Rogue Tradesmen
Residents of Louth Warned About Rogue Tradesmen by Lincolnshire Trading Standards.
Louth is situated at the foot of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
The Lincolnshire Wolds which is affectionally known as Poacher Country.
The capital of Poacher country is Louth which is to the East with Caistor, Market Rasen and Horncastle along the west of the Wolds.
Did you know that Louth is actually mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book?
This article was published in the Louth Leader on 17 March 2015
Lincolnshire Trading Standards is warning residents in South Cockerington to be on their guard against rogue traders after a group of ‘workmen’
were targeting residents last week, offering to repair driveways free of charge.
It is believed the men were calling at the homes of people with long drive ways, including farmers.
Kirsty Toyne, principal trading standards officer, said: “Unfortunately every year, thousands of people are visited by a rogue trader,
and these criminals will try anything to con people into handing over money.
“We have heard cases of them claiming to be from a local authority, that they have completed work for neighbours,
and their services will cost very little.
“Often anyone who agrees to let these people carry out for work for them will be hit with an unreasonable bill at the end,
even if the trader has agreed to carry out the work for free.
“Please follow our advice to stop it happening to you, and if you have been targeted please report it to us via the Citizens Advice Bureau on 03454 04 05 06.”
To avoid being conned by rogue traders, Lincolnshire Trading Standards recommends:
Use a reputable company that has been recommended by your friends or family,
get at least three quotes to compare prices and Keep in control and should never feel pressured.
If you do, or you have been a victim of a rogue trader, please call the police on 101.
FeedBack and Reviews of Trades People by Homeowners
One really should consider whether the homeowner / client was totally reasonable,
having a bad day or expecting far more than originally agreed upon if they leave a bad review.
Likewise, a good review does not infer the job was done correctly or using the best quality materials.
Only time will tell regarding quality workmanship and materials.
You need to discuss the job with tradesmen before you hire them and base your decisions
on the big picture. Only you will know when its right firm for your home improvement project.
The rest is simply a guide to help you get there. Enjoy their article.
Should we really care what other people think?
a blog published by TrustMark.org.uk | Monday March 9, 2015
It’s coming up to my silver wedding anniversary later this year and to make up for the fact that my wife and I didn't have a proper honeymoon,
I’ve booked a trip to Italy for a few nights.
Like many, I’m a big fan of Trip Advisor and I always use it to check out hotels before making a booking –
but I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I don’t base my entire decision on reviews alone.
We’re far more likely to rely on recommendations from friends rather than what’s written online,
especially when it comes to important decisions, like who to let into your home for big improvement and repair projects.
Last year, TrustMark introduced a feedback system that allows prospective customers to see what other people thought of the trades person they had used.
This feedback covers value, reliability, professionalism, quality of service and whether or not that trades person would be recommended again –
key points for anyone looking to hire a new tradesman.
TrustMark isn’t alone in providing homeowners with ratings and reviews of potential tradesmen, and there’s clearly a strong demand for this type of information.
With the growing trend in ‘collaborative consumption’, everyone wants to have their say, but the good rating of one homeowner alone,
does not a trusted tradesman make. read the full article here Read full article
Latest Van Deal Available to Members - Limited Time Offer
Just to let you know that our members have a fantastic offer on a Transit Custom running until March 30th 2015.
Transit Custom 290 Limited Van 125 ps from £16,995 + VAT, RFL.
Metalic Paint, Bluetooth, Electric Mirrors, Heathed Front Screen, etc
Finance Packages is available.
ORDER YOUR 15 PLATE NOW - REMEMBER IT'S FREE DELIVERY TO YOUR DOOR.
Don't miss out please call Gareth Or Christine 01724 295719 or Email Sales@bestvandeals.com
Brits Likely to Devalue Home With Shoddy DIY Skills
Brits turn ‘Do-It-Yourself’ into ‘Devalue-It-Yourself’
Posted on the http://www.trustmark.org.uk/newsroom
- Shoddy DIY makes more than half (54%) of Brits less likely to put in an offer on a home
- Nine in ten (91%) would reduce their offer on properties showing signs of poor DIY
- Brits would offer 11% less on average for homes with botched DIY
Dodgy DIY by British homeowners may be devaluing the sale price of the average UK home: a staggering 91% of British adults would reduce their offer on homes with signs of poorly-done DIY by some amount, and over half (54%) would be less likely to put an offer in at all.http://www.trustmark.org.uk/newsroomhttp://www.trustmark.org.uk/newsroomWhat’s more, Brits would reduce this offer by 11% on average, amounting to a loss of over £30,800 for the average English home. In the capital, this figure shoots up to £60,149.
According to the results published today from TrustMark, the Government-endorsed ‘find a tradesman’ scheme, homeowners’ self-fuelled renovation projects can prove even more expensive in some instances. A third (31%) of British adults say that dodgy DIY would prompt them to reduce their offer by over 10%, with nearly one in seven (13%) likely to reduce their offer by over 20%.
Unqualified homeowners attempting electrical DIY has the largest impact on the value of their homes, as visible wiring was chosen as the most off-putting example of poor DIY by 40% of British adults, and inconveniently or poorly placed electrical sockets were also cited by 10% of respondents as the biggest DIY flaw. The second most important turn-off for prospective buyers was ill-fitting or unfinished kitchen units, ranked as the most off-putting DIY flaw for 18% of respondents. Read the full article here >> TrustMark UK News Section
Latest Van Deal Available to Members - Limited Time Offer
This offer is only available to FairTrades / HomePro Members
Only 5 Available (Subject to availability)
Fiat Doblo 1.3 multijet 90ps only £7,250 + VAT, RFL.
Side load door, Free delivery and Finance packages available.
Don't miss out please call Gareth Or Christine 01724 295719 or Email Sales@bestvandeals.com
1.5 Million Pre-Payment Gas Meters Faulty
Energy suppliers are to refund customers on up to 1.5 million pre-payment gas meters after a fault led to "over-collection".
Trade association Energy UK said suppliers will be contacting every affected customer and will refund any money owed "as quickly as possible".
It said the problem came about because up to 1.5 million meters did not work properly when they were installed, adding that suppliers "know who is affected and have a solution".
Energy UK said in a statement: "As soon as the issue came to light companies began work to fix it and arrange refunds.
"In some cases a customer's meter will have already been fixed as programmes get under way across the country. All the companies involved will be working over the coming months to get round everyone who is affected."
Pre-payment meters use a calorific value (CV) code to calculate the amount of gas to be charged for.
But the fault meant the CV for some meters was not set properly, resulting in inaccurate readings.
Energy UK said affected meters would be fixed in a roll-out starting today, and the first of the refunds were expected to be given out before Christmas.
Full article on MSN Money
The Big Freeze 2014 - How To Save Money
It looks like Britain is in for the coldest winter in 100 years. Each year many vulnerable people die because of the cold. Often, simply because they couldn't afford to keep the heating on. With the big energy companies increasing their bills by up to 30% or more in just a couple of years homeowners across the country are feeling the squeeze.
There are many things that we can do to save a little money on our energy bills. There is a short list of some examples we found in an article on MSN money.
- Keep your thermostat set to around 21° C. Every degree above this adds unnecessary expenses to you monthly bills. Jumpers, gowns, blankets and warm socks are an easy way to warm up and be comfortable, and best of all because nothing.
- Don't block your radiator or keep your curtains open when you're not in. You want the warm air to circulate the room freely while curtains can help reduce the loss of heat through your windows. Also keep your doors closed. This is a great way to keep the heat in the rooms.
- Repair draughty windows, insulate your loft, cavity walls and draft proof your doors. Set your radiators thermostats and ensure that your central heating has been set to switch on and switch off automatically. This means that you won't be heating an empty house while the whole family is out at work all day. Likewise, you may want to heating to switch off for a few hours in the middle of the night and then switch on again before you get up.
- Consider updating your old boiler with an energy-efficient condensing boiler and why not ask your energy supplier to send you a smart meter and put you on a monthly direct debits. A smart meter will show you when you are using the most energy and a monthly direct debit not only gives you a small discount but also helps you plan your outgoing bills.
There is a link to the article on MSN money. Stay warm and stay safe and best of all have a great winter and festive season.
Are You Ready For When Interest Rates Go Up?
More than half of UK homeowners not prepared for interest rate rises
08 Oct 2014
Money Advice Service research reveals three out of four homeowners haven’t considered how a 3% interest rate increase would affect their mortgage repayments.
This is despite the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney estimating interest rates will rise by 2% to 3% over the next three years.
Rate rises may be gradual
It’s likely any increases in interest rates will be gradual and spread out over the next few years.
Our research shows 47% of people would find it hard to cover an increase of up to £150 extra a month.
And almost one in five (19%) said they would really struggle to cover any rise in interest rates in their monthly repayments
Too many will leave it too late
More than half of the 3,007 people surveyed said they would change life habits, such as cutting back on spending and on trips to the cinema, pub or restaurant, when interest rates start rising. Our Cut-back calculator could prove useful here.
Around one in three said they’d dip into savings or start to budget as soon as an interest rate rise is announced.
Read their full article here >> https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/news/more-than-half-of-uk-homeowners-not-prepared-for-interest-rate-rises?
Spate Of Cowboy Builder Just Before Winter Sets In
There have been a spate of Rogue tradesmen / Cowboy Builders ripping of homeowners of late. Warnings from local councils and local police forces abound, but are homeowners taking this threat serioulsy enough? Here is FairTrades Associations response to this nefarious activity.
‘The best way that the homeowner can protect themselves from a rogue trader is to use a local established, qualified, reputable tradesmen that can provide references from previous installations,
has the correct insurance in place and the financial stability to support him through good times and bad.
If a tradesman says he is a member of a trade association, give them a call and confirm this and check that all credentials are up to date.’
FairTrades was established in 1983 to provide the general public with a register of vetted tradesmen that could be relied upon to offer valued professional workmanship across a broad spectrum of trades.
All FairTrades members agree to a code of conduct when they join.
FairTrades is an approved scheme operator for the Government endorsed TrustMark scheme set up to help consumers find reputable tradesmen to carry out work in the home improvement industry.
The following is general advice from the FairTrades website http://www.fairtrades.co.uk
Rogue Traders – Consumers Can Protect Themselves
In basic terms, there are three ways in which a rogue trader operates.
, they may diagnose the wrong problem. This means that whatever work that they do (and charge you for) will not result in the problem being fixed.
, they may carry out labour and buy materials that are not necessary for carrying out the repair.
, you may simply be overcharged for the work carried out.
There is no law against traders going door to door in order to drum up business. But they must follow the rules applying to doorstep selling otherwise they would be breaking the law.
If your chosen tradesman is a member of a trade association then call the trade association they claim to be members of and confirm they are indeed fully paid up members, or at the very least
ask you're tradesman to show you their Membership Certificate.
Always obtain more than one quotation and never agree to a price without sleeping on it.
There are two reasons, the first is so that you do not feel pressured in to a deal you may regret and secondly all the tradesmen listed here agree that you should be free to make an informed decision and check any references first.
In our opinion the key to successfully finding the right trades person stems from:
- Receiving recommendations from trade associations, family, friends, neighbours and your work colleagues.
- Knowing not only which questions to ask before you employ a contractor, but also not being rushed in to that decision.
- Getting to know the tradesman or his company by checking their membership of trade associations with those trade bodies, speaking to their former clients,
and lastly by checking you are able to contact them at a physical office which they operate from on a full time basis. Do all of this prior to commencement of work.
Homeowners and Landlords Beware-Employing Unregistered Gas Fitters Is Illegal
Homeowners and Landlords Beware-Employing Unregistered Gas Fitters Is Illegal
An Essex landlord has recently been fined £950 and ordered to pay £4000 in costs after failing to abide by health and safety regulations dictating the use of registered gas safety fitters.
Homeowners/Landlords wishing to learn more about this regulation should look up Regulation 36(4) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. (We suggest starting here)
Undertaking any gas related work within a home, rental properties, or businesses comes with a legal requirement to ensure that a competent, qualified tradesman is used to carry out the work and this means that the engineer must be registered with the gas safety register.
Not only will the homeowner/landlord/business owner be prosecuted, but the tradesman would also be prosecuted separately if found to be in contravention of the regulations.
Boilers, fireplaces and gas cookers require tradesmen who are competent and legally allowed to work on them. Only those who are competent and registered may do so. Until a few years ago, any tradesman working with gas required to be registered with corgi. The corgi gas register ended on 31 March 2009 with the scheme being taken over on 1 April by the gas safe register. For gas installers to work legally they must be registered with the gas safe register.
Every gas safe registered engineer carries the gas safe ID card. The gas safe ID card stipulates which types of gas appliances your tradesman is qualified to work on. . All trade associations actively encourage members of the public, landlords and business owners alike to insist on seeing proof of registration with gas safe prior to any work commencing. Every year there are hundreds of reports of illegal gas work being carried out which are investigated by the health and safety executive.
If you are looking to carry out any home improvement work, why not have a look through our tradesmen’s directory and see if we can help you find a suitable company.
UK Tradesmen Are Working Longer Hours and Harder Than Ever Before
UK Tradesmen Are Working Longer Hours and Harder Than Ever Before
We just found a great article in the Installer magazine online. The magazine makes for great reading for heating, plumbing and renewable professionals. Providing the latest news, product and training information to the heating industry!
Tradesmen are working longer hours than ever, willing to sacrifice holidays and weekends in a bid to squeeze more jobs in.
The average tradesman works between 41 and 50 hours a week, more than bankers (40.9 hours), medical practitioners (38.4 hours), barristers and judges (36 hours), and accountants (35.6 hours)*. A fifth of tradesmen work more than 50 hours a week, compared to the UK average of 36.4 hours**.
“For a lot of tradesmen, time is money, and so any opportunity to squeeze in an extra job is snatched up. This can mean long working hours and driving further from home to increase their workload. However, by finding ways to work more effectively, they can cut their working hours.
“Tradesmen have told us that using technology allows them to work more efficiently, by helping them to communicate with clients, invoice jobs and buy supplies for their business.”
It continues ... Read the full article click here
To help tradesmen fit everything in, Screwfix stores are now open seven days a week and from 7am – 8pm on weekdays. This gives customers the flexibility and convenience of dropping in when it suits them and, with more than 270 trade only counters nationwide, there is always a Plumbfix store nearby to stock up on the essentials.
Other findings from the research include:
• 58% of tradesmen take fewer than 26 holidays per year
• 87% of tradesmen are driving the same amount or more this year (2012 vs. 2013)
• 62% of tradesmen eat a packed lunch each day
• Tea is the most popular drink (57% of tradesmen choose this)
• 8 out of 10 tradesmen skip meals while working
• Average lunch break for tradesmen is 10 – 20 minutes
• 73% of tradesmen think they don’t take enough exercise
• 17% of tradesmen walk to work
• 83% of tradesmen are working the same hours or more this year (2012 vs. 2013)
For more information on Plumbfix’s range of products, visit www.plumbfix.com, call free on 0808 101 0000 or pick up the latest catalogue from your nearest store.
It continues ... Read the full article click here