Work underway to tackle A595 flooding
Work underway to tackle A595 flooding
Highways England engineers have begun efforts to address serious issues of flooding that have blighted sections of the A595 in Cumbria over recent winters.
Getting underway today (November 23rd), a 500,000 project to improve drainage for the carriageway between Lillyhall and the A595 junction with the A66 at Dobies has now started.
Highways England project manager Peter Gee said: “This scheme will reduce incidents of surface water flooding and give road users more reliable journeys.
"We're doing everything we can to keep disruption to a minimum by carrying out most of the work overnight. Temporary traffic lights will also be in use during the day so we're encouraging drivers to allow extra time for their journeys.”
The carriageway will be closed each evening between the hours of 20:00 and 06:00 GMT throughout the work period. Meanwhile, temporary traffic lights and reduced speed limits will help to manage traffic flows at other times.
Clearly signposted diversions will be in operation during periods of closure for this busy stretch of the A595. However, the route south of Joseph Nobles Road will remain open in both directions at all times.
Work on the project is scheduled for completion by January 15th next year, although the project will be put on hold and all local traffic management systems removed for the duration of the festive break.
Homeowners Warned To Check Gas Appliances As Winter Approaches
Fire and Rescue warn people to check gas appliances
Published by By OneMK
A house in Wooburn Green was destroyed by a suspected gas explosion on Sunday (November 22) that Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue now believe was caused by a portable gas heater.
A spokesman from Bucks Fire said: “We can’t at this stage speculate as to why the gas was leaking from the portable gas heater, but with the colder weather now with us, people are likely to be using their heating more, so for many of them it is likely to serve as a timely but shocking reminder to have their gas appliances checked.”
Just a few months ago Bucks Fire issued these top tips in a safety reminder;
1. Gas appliances should be safety-checked once a year and serviced regularly by a Gas Safe-registered engineer. This includes your gas boiler, gas cooker and gas fire. Sign up at www.staygassafe.co.uk for a free reminder service.
2. Check your engineer is Gas Safe-registered. You can find and check an engineer at www.gassaferegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.
3. Check the front and back of your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card, making sure they are qualified to do the specific type of gas work you require.
4. Check for warning signs your appliances aren’t working correctly, such as lazy yellow or orange flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.
5. Check you know the six signs of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.
6. Check you have
Cheap Chargers Can Cause Fires This Christmas
Last month Shoreham firefighters were called to a house where a cheap online version of an iPod charger had exploded. Luckily the electricity tripped out and a fire was averted.
As it is the start of Electrical Fire Safety Week, the fire service and Trading Standards have teamed up to highlight the risks of unwittingly buying counterfeit electrical goods.
The community fire safety manager for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has made it quite clear that the fire service has seen an increase in the number of fires involving cheap, non-branded electrical products.
The advice is that should a price look too good to be true, then it most likely is and you should not buy it.
Jackie Boyle continued to point out that something we should all take to heart, saying “It’s not worth putting your own safety or family’s safety at risk just to save a few pounds.
With Christmas approaching we’d urge people to steer clear of the dodgy fakes."
Original article published by Worthing Herald Online
Excellent Article On "How to spot a fake online review"
How to spot a fake online review
Published by By SARAH SKIDMORE SELL, AP Business Writer
Amazon is suing more than 1,000 people for advertising their services writing fake reviews for as little as $5 as it seeks to crack down on bogus reviews on its site.
Do you trust online reviews? Now that Amazon is suing more than 1,000 people who allegedly offered to write glowing product reviews for cash, you might reasonably be concerned.
Turns out, deceptive reviews are commonplace online — and so are doubts about them. The research organization Mintel found that 57 percent of surveyed consumers are suspicious of companies or products that only have positive online reviews. And 49 percent believe companies probably give incentives for online reviews.
Fortunately, there are a few good techniques that can help you tell truth from fiction.
DON'T TRUST YOURSELF
A team of researchers at Cornell University created a computer algorithm for detecting fake hotel reviews by analyzing the language used in legitimate and phony write-ups. The computer program, Review Skeptic, is accurate about 90 percent of the time, but humans alone performed poorly at determining the truth teller.
"People are terrible," said professor Claire Cardie, who helped develop the system. "I was very surprised. We just cannot tell the difference much more than chance."
LISTEN TO THE LANGUAGE
Beware of extremes — overly enthusiastic or negative reviews are red flags. False reviews tend to use more extreme language to get their message across. So if someone says "It is the most comfortable bed ever," perhaps in all caps, take pause.
Additionally, the Cornell researchers found that when it comes to hotels, fake reviewers tended not to talk about the spatial details — such as the floor or bathroom. Instead, they focused on the reason they were there, such as describing a recent fake vacation or business trip. In practice, this makes sense because someone who has never been to a location might have a tough time describing it accurately.
JUNK THE JARGON
On the flip side, beware of recommendations that read like product manuals. Reviews that repeat the full product name or model number may be an attempt to game the search engine system. And if they use excessive technical or marketing jargon, odds are they aren't providing a genuine review — most real people don't talk like that.
REVIEW THE REVIEWER
Check out the profile of the person providing the review, said Louis Ramirez, senior features writer with online deal site DealNews. If they only write reviews for a particular company, that's a huge warning sign they could have a vested interest in that business. Some sites let people upload pictures of the item they bought, which can help add credibility.
Amazon verifies some of its reviewers, indicating they actually bought the product (although some of the people it's suing allegedly found ways around that). Some other sites only allow posts from people who've made a purchase there. Look closely on the site for their review policies.
PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL
If you think about your own experiences with an unpleasant experience or product, you can probably explain exactly why it was bad. Ramirez suggests if you're unsure about a review, put more stock in someone who provides details of why they didn't like a product ("Oh, the battery only lasted four hours") that in someone who complains more generally ("I hated this laptop. It was horrible").
Is Your Home Ready For The Long Cold Winter Ahead?
Is your home ready for a long cold winter?
(Before you read the article we implore you to please work safely. When using a ladder have a family member stand at the bottom to steady it and securely fix your ladder at the top prior to commencing any work. Be aware of uneven ground, ice and pedestrians. Its your responsibility to keep not only yourself but other safe too.
If unsure or uncomfortable do not continue, enlist the help of a qualified tradesman.)
First inspect your roof from the ground or ladder looking specifically for any sagging or uneven areas, broken tiles, damaged flashing and or fascia on your roof.
A sagging roof could indicate damage below the surface. Broken tiles and damaged flashing and fascia are strong indicators that water or snow could ingress during high winds or worse still, you could loose roof tiles that damage a neighbours property, car or whose still injure someone walking by your house.
Secondly, do a visual inspection of your gutters, remove dead leaves, twigs, tennis balls etc and consider installing drain guards to stop leaves fouling the down pipes as you really want make sure that the this winters rain and snow has a way of the roof. Standing water is as much your enemy as ice cold driving high winds.
Your third task is to inspect the valleys of the roof. We often find that this is an area overlooked by homeowners. Valleys are a great trap for leaves and other debris which lead to leaks and other more serious damage.
Finally, enlist a qualified roofing firm to repair / replace any damages, torn or missing lead flashing or fascias. This is a prime area for water ingress and with driving winter winds lasting many hours at a time, a lot of damage can be done during just one storm. Remember, working at height is dangerous!
NEW scheme to build more starter homes in Oxford Meets Angry Oxford Response
Oxford Councellor Feel A NEW scheme to build more starter homes in Oxford has been angrily dismissed as a “get-out clause” for house builders.
Published by OxfordMail.co.uk - OxfordMail.co.uk
Changes in planning rules, announced yesterday, mean construction firms will no longer have to offer low-cost rented homes in new developments.
Instead they will be able to sell the properties at a 20 per cent discount to first-time buyers under 40.
Prices will be capped at £250,000 and buyers will not be allowed to sell them until five years later.
But the plans were met with anger by some Oxford residents and housing experts, who said it would lead to fewer affordable homes to rent and higher prices in the longer term.
Former town planner and housing expert Mr Colenutt claimed the policy was “an attack on local communities.”
He added: “This isn’t about helping people, it’s about helping the house builders.”
Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said: “This policy might be welcomed by the very few people who are both eligible and can afford it, but in Oxford it will mean fewer homes for affordable rent. >> Full story here
Slough Crackdown On Bogus Builders
Council and police join forces to launch crackdown on bogus builders
Published by Slough Express
An operation to crackdown on rogue trading saw 32 homes visited across Slough on Wednesday, September 30.
A 27-strong team of officers from Slough trading standards, the council’s neighbourhood enforcement team, the local police team, Home Office Immigration Enforcement and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) targeted homes where building work was going on in a bid to seek out any rogue traders operating in the area.
Rogue traders are criminals who take advantage of householders by using high pressure sales techniques. The work is often sub-standard or work which is not required at all.
As a result of the operation, one builder now faces an investigation by trading standards.
All of the traders spoken to were warned for not issuing their customers with 14-day cancellation notices.
The team also recorded a number of possible breaches of planning and building laws, which will now be investigated.
In addition, 15 illegal workers were encountered, eight of whom were arrested by immigration officers. Two were subsequently granted temporary release, while the remainder are in immigration detention pending removal from the UK.
HMRC’s Hidden Economy Team gathered information about possible VAT and income tax avoidance. Read the article here >> Slough Express Article
Employers Liability Insurance - Make Sure You Have It!
Why You Really Should Have Employers’ Liability Insurance!
Published and Authored by David Cant - Veritas Consulting Health and Safety Consultants specialise in offering their clients affordable Workplace Health and Safety Services, Asbestos Surveys and CDM Advisers in Birmingham West Midlands & Beyond.
Another week – another business wincing as they get handed a hefty fine for doing something that they could have totally avoided.
Or in this case – it’s the not-doing that landed them in hot water with the HSE, when a Staffordshire company ended up being hit with a fine for not having their employees insured.
See what happens when you try to cut corners and save money? Not worth it!
And if you’re still not convinced (and think you can skip out on employers’ liability insurance yourself) read on – and discover why it’s so important to you:
Please visit the Veritas Consulting blog and read this posting >> Why You Really Should Have Employers’ Liability Insurance!
Gas Safe Register – 1 in 7 Gas Appliances In London Homes Are Dangerous
One in seven London homes 'has a dangerous gas appliance'
Monday, 14 September 2015 By http://www.southlondon-today.co.uk
More than 660,000 people in London are putting their health and finances at risk by not getting their gas appliances safety checked every year – which, according to a new survey among gas engineers in London, costs as little as £65.
In the last year there have been more than 19,000 gas emergency call- outs to homes in London, the equivalent of 52 every day.
The gas authority – Gas Safe Register – has found dangerous gas appliances lurking in one in seven of the 13,002 homes it has inspected in the capital in the past five years.
Nationally, a dangerous gas appliance was found in one in six homes.
These types of dangers have led to six deaths and more than 300 injuries in the last year alone across the UK.
Left unchecked, gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
Not only can these kill you, they can also result in damage to your home which can run into thousands of pounds to rectify.
Common problems associated with faulty or badly maintained gas appliances include black staining on surrounding walls, burst gas pipes, excessive condensation and, in extreme cases, house fires and explosions.
Having a gas safety check is a legal requirement for landlords, however for homeowners the onus is on them to get this done.
To mark this year’s Gas Safety Week, which starts today (September 14), Gas Safe Register is calling on homeowners to protect themselves and their property by having a safety check.
Jonathan Samuel, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, said: “With the average cost of safety-checking your gas boiler at just £65, it’s a small price to pay to keep you and your family safe and prevent damage to your home.
"While we’re seeing more people getting gas safety checks compared to last year, millions are still taking risks so we’re reminding people to make sure all their gas appliances are safety-checked every year.”
You can find out the number of unsafe gas appliances and gas incidents in your local neighbourhood by visiting Gas Safe Register’s interactive gas map at www.staygassafe.co.uk
You can also sign up to a free annual gas safety check reminder service.
To keep you and your family safe, follow Gas Safe Register’s top tips:
** Get your gas appliances safety-checked and serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer every year. If you live in rented accommodation your landlord has a legal obligation to get this done.
** Recognise the warning signs that your gas appliances are not working properly including lazy yellow flames and black marks around the appliance.
** Know the symptoms of CO poisoning, including headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness.
For more information about what’s going on during Gas Safety Week, follow the Twitter newsfeed @GasSafetyWeek, visit www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.
Homeowners Beware - New Council Tax Scam Alert
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’s (NFIB) proactive intelligence team is warning people of a new approach being used by scammers to carry-out vishing scams.
Published by Action Fraud
Fraudsters have been phoning victims telling them that they are calling to let them know that they have been placed in the wrong council tax bracket for a number of years and that they are entitled to a rebate, they normally say that this rebate should be worth £7000. Since mid July Action Fraud has received 16 reports.
Once the victim is convinced, the fraudster tells them that in order to receive the rebate they will need to pay an administration fee in advance; the payment they ask for varies between £60-350. The victim provides the details and makes the payment, but then is no longer able to make contact with the person they spoke to on the phone.
Wrong tax bracket
When they phone their council about the rebate and the fact that they are in the wrong tax bracket, the council will confirm that they know nothing about it and that they have been contacted by fraudsters.
The fraudsters have mainly been targeting both male and female victims who are aged 60 and over and live in the Sussex area, but it is likely that the fraudsters will also start to target victims in other areas.
Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith said: “Fraudsters are relentless and will work tirelessly to find new ways to convince people to part with their money. These criminals make several calls and will be particularly convincing and provide good reason for why the person should make an immediate payment. We urge people to be vigilant and never respond to these callers who are simply trying to scam you”.
How to protect yourself:
- Never respond to unsolicited phone calls
- Your local council won’t ever phone out-of-the-blue to discuss a council tax rebate, if you receive a call of this nature, put the phone down straight away.
- No legitimate organisation will ask you to pay an advanced fee in order receive money; so never give them your card details.
- If you think you have been a victim of fraud, hang up the phone and wait five minutes to clear the line as fraudsters sometimes keep the line open. Then call your bank or card issuer to report the fraud. Where it is possible use a different phone line to make the phone call.
To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.
Electrical Safety - How to treat electrical burns
Electricity is incredibly dangerous, something we all know,
but do we know what to do if someone is shocked?
We found a great article published on Safety+Health magazine, published by the National Safety Council,
offers comprehensive national coverage of occupational safety news and analysis of industry trends to 86,000
subscribers. Why not subscribe to their newsletter and get the inside line on Health and Safety matters yourself?
Published by Express & Star
In 2012, exposure to electricity resulted in 156 work-related deaths and 1,730 cases with days away from work, according to the 2015 edition of the National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts.” If a co-worker experiences an electrical burn, do you know what to do?
Rochester, MN-based Mayo Clinic recommends following these tips if you see someone come in contact with an electrical current:
Do not attempt to touch the person if he or she is still in contact with the electrical current.
If the electrical source is a high-voltage wire or lightning, call 911 immediately. Do not get close to any wires until you are certain the power is turned off. Stay at least 20 feet away from power lines.
Never move someone with an electrical injury unless the person is in imminent danger.
Be aware that electrical injuries can cause internal tissue damage that may not be readily apparent on the skin’s surface. Mayo Clinic recommends calling 911 if the victim experiences:
Loss of consciousness
Abnormal heart rhythms (also known as arrhythmias) or cardiac arrest
When waiting for medical help to arrive:
Shut off the source of electricity only if you can safely do so. If not, use a dry, non-conductive object (such as a piece of cardboard, plastic or wood) to move the electrical source away.
Begin performing CPR if the victim is unresponsive.
Do not let the person become chilled.
Cover burns with a sterile bandage or clean cloth. Refrain from applying a blanket or towel, as loose fibers can become stuck to burned skin.
Full story here >> Safety+Health magazine
Homeowners 'at risk from shocking boiler servicing'
Homeowners 'at risk from shocking boiler servicing'
Published by Express & Star
Homeowners are potentially being put at risk when getting their boiler serviced due to "shocking" work from engineers, a consumer site has claimed.
In a damning investigation, Which? called out 10 separate engineers to carry out a service, including from major firms such as British Gas, SSE and Corgi Homeplan.
It found that only two - British Gas and Corgi - bothered to carry out the minimum legal checks, while none at all followed the manufacturer's servicing instructions properly.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said more needed to be done to protect consumers.
"These results are shocking, with most engineers we put to the test failing to do what is legally required," he said.
"Faulty boilers could have serious or even fatal consequences for consumers so more must be done to check up on and crack down on incompetent engineers."
As part of the investigation, Which? set the boiler's gas pressure dangerously high, something six of the engineers failed to do anything about.
Other potentially dangerous failings included not checking the boiler case for leaks, letting unburned gas hiss out into the room and in two instances lying about safety checks.
Which? said it had shared its findings with the Gas Safe Register, which is responsible for checking gas work is done safely.
An SSE spokesman said: "Safety is SSE's number one priority. We do not tolerate poor safety or poor service and we take this incident extremely seriously. Engineers must abide by all gas safety regulations and SSE has very strict rules that engineers must follow. Any evidence of an employee breaking these rules would result in disciplinary action and we asked that footage be shared with us so we could investigate this further.
"We have reviewed our company practices, re-briefed all our boiler engineers and reiterated our mandatory safety procedures. If any customer has concerns about any aspect of SSE's service they should contact us immediately."
A British Gas spokesman said: "At British Gas, safety is our number one priority. We are known for having one of the best safety records in the industry, with an Ofsted judgment of 'outstanding' for our apprenticeship training schemes.
"We understand Which? have passed the detail of their investigation to the Gas Safe Register so we look forward to liaising with them to discuss this."
Of the 10 engineers Which? called out, five were from big name firms and five were independents chosen at random.
Full story here >> Express & Star
11 New Buyers But Just 1 Property
11 buyers chasing every property that comes on to market as house prices rocket
Published by IBT Times
First-time-buyers scrambling to get on the property ladder are being faced with mammoth house price rises and intense competition, with 11 buyers chasing every new property to come onto the market.
Research from haart has shown that the number doubles to 20 to 1 in London and the estate agent said that the average price of a first-time buyer home increased £4,150 in June – an increase of £138 every day and up £12,000 over the last 12 months.
First-time buyers are now paying £166,393 for their first home, up 7.6% on last year, while the average deposit rose to £32,518, up 3.2%.
Paul Smith, chief executive at haart, said: "A potential first-time buyer on an average salary of £27,000 must be prepared to spend 42% of their take home salary on mortgage repayments, showing the traditional rule of spending no more than 30% of income on housing is no longer reality for many."
The number of first-time buyer registrations fell 13.6% in the UK last month and 17.3% in London, suggesting high prices are stifling demand, Smith added. Adding upward pressure on house prices is the fact that the supply of properties in the UK is down 13.9% in the year to June.
The average UK property price has increased 6.1% over the past year to stand at £216,951.
1st Time Buyers House Prices Rocket Upwards
UK house prices: The average cost of a home for first-time buyers increased £138 a day in June
Published by CityAM
Despite all George Osborne's efforts, it looks like first-time buyers are bearing the brunt of the increase in house prices again, after new figures showed the average price of a first-time buyer home leaped by £4,150 in June. That's £138 a day.
According to the figures, by estate agent Haart, that means the average first-time buyer is now shelling out £166,393 for their first home, 7.6 per cent more than during the same month last year. So it's hardly surprising that the percentage of new mortgages taken up by those climbing the first rung on the property ladder dipped to 42.7 per cent, 1.7 per cent lower than June 2014.
The average deposit rose to £32,518, up 3.2 per cent from the same time last year, while the average mortgage rose 8.7 per cent to £133,875.
Not surprisingly, the average age of a borrower rose 0.2 years to 31.5
Meanwhile, the average house price rose to £216,951, 6.1 per cent higher than last year.
Qualified Trademen Needed In northern Ireland
NORTHERN Ireland has lost many of its tradesmen and women after they headed for Britain in years after the last recession.
While Northern Irelands building sector continues to get stronger small and medium sized firms are struggling to hire enough trained and skilled carpenters, plumber, electricians etc with the relevant qualifications.
There even seems to be a desperate need to supervisors and project managers too.
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/
How to identify cruel rogue trader scammers
How to identify cruel 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 consensus 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 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 United Kingdom.
This will also create no less than 4000 new jobs for building and home improvement sector workers withing 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, steps 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 always 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 affectionately 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 seriously 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