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10 March 2010
Rogue traders prey on
the elderly in North West, warns the Gas Safe Register
ALARMING research released by Gas
Safe Register reveals that over 65s in the North West are most at
risk in Britain from rogue traders, with 57% saying they have
already been targeted by preying tradesman on their own doorstep -
well above the national average (42%). With Age UK figures
claiming that nearly 2.5 million people fell victim to scams last
year, Gas Safe Register is warning older people that they might be
vulnerable to unscrupulous rogues.
Worryingly, the survey carried out for Gas Safe Register found that
over 65s living in the North West don't always know how to keep
themselves safe from rogue traders. Only 8% think carrying an ID
card is important for a tradesman; 56% would hand over cash for a
job which then can't be traced (well above the national average of
37%); and most are not fully aware what to do if a tradesman does a
poor job in their home, with just 36% prepared to report substandard
work to Trading Standards. Over 1 in 10 older people in the North
West have also had to say:- "no" very aggressively to get rid of
fast talking rogue traders on their door step.
The survey also identified over 75's as being particularly at risk,
with many saying if the illegal gas fitter seemed polite and helpful
then they wouldn't always think twice about making further checks.
Paul Johnston, chief executive of Gas Safe Register explains the
dangers:- "All too often our investigations team find illegal
gas fitters specifically preying on the elderly, offering discounted
OAP rates and using charm tactics. Many use the Gas Safe logo on
their van, adverts or paperwork when they are not registered. With a
quarter of a million gas jobs carried out every year by illegal gas
fitters who don't have the skills or the qualifications to work
safely on gas, it is vital that older people living in the North
West always check that the engineer they use is on the Gas Safe
Register or they could be putting their lives and pocket at risk."
Sadly, this was the case for 70 year old widow Patricia when she
needed a new boiler and central heating system last winter. She was
caught out by illegal gas fitters who "sounded friendly."Their local advert stated they were big enough to cope but small
enough to care; only this wasn't the case when they left her with a
dangerous gas boiler she couldn't use in the winter and couldn't
afford to fix after already handing them nearly £6,000.
Paul Johnston adds:- "We want to help older people understand
how to keep themselves safe from illegal gas fitters and our advice
is always ask to see the Gas Safe ID card before letting anyone work
on your gas appliances. If you're in any doubt, contact us
immediately on our free helpline. Illegal gas work could cost you
twice to rectify, or worse, it could cost you your life."
Gas Safe Register's top tips for the
► Never trust a gas fitter on first impressions or recommendations
alone, no matter how helpful and polite they seem - always ask for
the Gas Safe Register ID card. It's the only way you can guarantee
that your engineer is legally allowed to work on your gas boiler,
gas fire and gas cooker.
► Check on the back of the Gas Safe Register ID that the engineer is
registered for the specific type of work you need. If they're
registered to fit gas boilers, it doesn't mean they are
automatically qualified to put in a gas fire, for example.
► After the gas work is done, you can nominate your home for a free
gas safety check.
► If you suspect an illegal gas fitter report them to Gas Safe
► Gas Safe Register can help you find a local Gas Safe registered
engineer. Call the free helpline on:- 0800 408 5500 or go to:-
Usdaw says a woman's place is active in her union
shopworkers union Usdaw are marking International Women's Day by
celebrating a record number of women activists and highlighting the
recent gains the union has achieved for its 227,000 women members.
Usdaw has had a majority of women members since 1970, but now for
the first time in its history more than half of the union's 8,000
shop stewards and 12,000 activists are women.
The union is also highlighting some of the recent gains it has made
for its women members which include:-
► An average pay increase of 2.33% compared to a whole economy
average of 1.6%.
► A pay increase of over 20% for young women working in Tesco and
Sainsbury's, as a result of the union negotiating the abolition of
youth rates in both companies.
► Securing £8,111,600 in personal injury compensation for around
1,200 women members and £1,176,953 for 248 women members in
employment claims through the union's free legal service.
► Around 300 women members a month returning to learning through one
of the many Usdaw organised workplace based learning programmes.
The Union's award winning Parents and Carers campaign, which aims to
improve statutory and contractual rights for members with families,
has also made significant gains for women members. Over half the
Union's women members have seen improvements to their employment
contracts as a result of the campaign, improvements that include the
introduction of contractual maternity pay, new flexible working
practices and the introduction of employer support for childcare.
The union has recently negotiated with Tesco one of the best
examples of paid time off for fertility treatment in the entire
John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary said:- "Over 50,000
women have joined Usdaw in the past decade as a result of our focus
on workplace recruitment and organisation and I'm thrilled that the
great efforts we make to help and support all members to get active
in the union are so clearly paying dividends with our women members.
Usdaw prides itself on listening and acting on our members concerns.
Our women members have made it clear to us that issues around
work-life balance have equal importance to pay which is why we have
focussed so much attention on them."
Ruth Cross, Usdaw Equalities Officer said:- "The Union is not
just there for when things go wrong at work. Most of our women
members are juggling work with caring for their families and we
understand the pressures they are sometimes under. We have helped
thousands of women to get the support they need at work - whether
its hours of work that fit round their families, time off when their
children are ill or extra breaks during pregnancy."
WARNING TO SEFTON BUSINESSES
THE age old
problem of A-Boards and the council is about to be back in the news
again as Sefton MBC has been out and about in Formby warning
businesses of the impending enforcement action to remove objects
from the streets. Local businesses have again reacted strongly to
this saying:- "Not so long ago the council told us that we are
ok to do this as long as we are not coursing a hazard to the public,
yet they are doing this all over again. We are struggling to get
business in Formby. All the businesses we are carful not to course
problems with our signs and other items on the pavements. The
pavements are exceptionally wide and we have demonstrated that they
are not an issue. The character of the village is suffering and
businesses are closing as a result of these actions." said
one of the shop owners who were issued a warning notice. Email us
your views on this issue to:-
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