Avoid getting caught by cash-in-hand traders

Trading Standards estimates that nearly 90,000 unsuspecting homeowners across the UK are conned out of millions by rogue traders every year. The worry is that this will increase as more cash strapped householders resort to paying ‘cash in hand’ as a way to cut costs or avoid paying VAT.

We know that you might be tempted to employ ‘cash-in-hand’ traders in order to avoid adding 20 percent to the cost of keeping your home in good condition. But, this could leave you vulnerable to being ripped off or having sub-standard work done on your home. Every year over £170 million is stolen from unsuspecting homeowners by rogue traders and the VAT increase in January will be a further incentive for this figure to escalate.

Actually, we know that a low taxation economy stimulates growth. Independent research has shown that reducing the rate of VAT to five percent on the labour element of housing repair, maintenance and improvement work would increase revenue to the Treasury as well as creating more than 55,000 extra new jobs this year alone.

The FMB is part of the Cut the VAT Coalition which believes that reducing VAT to 5 percent for all maintenance and home improvement work would help the Government achieve its target of cutting carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. It would benefit millions of UK homeowners by getting rid of cowboy builders, helping those who cannot afford vital repairs to their homes, bringing empty properties back into use and protecting the countryside.

If you want to add your support or find out more click here.

To help protect you the FMB, in conjunction with Trading Standards, has published its ‘Nail the Rogues’ leaflet which gives advice to householders on how to spot and avoid a rogue trader as well as how to find a reputable trader. A window sticker is also available which can be placed in your front window to warn off rogues. On the back of the sticker there is information about how to spot and get rid of a rogue trader who may be standing on your doorstep.

Rogue traders come in all shapes and sizes. They may look and sound quite professional but one way to spot them is by the lines they may use to try and talk you into parting with your cash. Cold callers may say things like, “I was just passing and I noticed you have loose tiles on your roof”, to frighten householders into doing business with them.

The FMB has some advice for you:

If anyone comes to your door offering home maintenance services you should ask them to leave and don’t engage them in conversation. If they won’t leave, say you do not buy goods and services at the door. If they still won’t leave and you feel intimidated call the police who will always be happy to help with this sort of incident.

If you are thinking of having work done to your home ask friends and family for recommendations or check with a trade association such as the FMB and its Find A Builder website (www.fmb.org.uk/findabuilder).

Always get at least three quotes and use a contract which you can download free of charge on the FMB website.

Finally, never pay the full cost of the project up front.

Source: http://www.fmb.org.uk/ (Email Newsletter)

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