Spring is just around the corner. Many of us are likely to be thinking about carrying out home or garden improvement work. Or, finally getting round to fixing things that we’ve been putting off during the long winter months. Kent County Council’s Trading Standards Checked scheme supports local residents by matching them with reputable local businesses.
This is also the time of year that rogue and criminal traders redouble their efforts to take advantage of homeowners seeking to improve their living space. They come with bogus offers of guttering and roofing repairs, or work on driveways and gardens.
Cost of living pressure
This year, with household budgets under pressure for everyone, many are likely to be tempted by superficial bargains, which could end up costing dearly. It is all too common for doorstep criminals to promise the earth and fail to deliver. They leave a trail of unfinished or substandard work in their wake, with inflating prices as a project progresses far beyond what was originally agreed.
‘Adam’ was approached by a stranger outside his home who told him that the coving on his roof needed urgent attention. What started as a friendly conversation about a relatively small issue ended with £18,000 spent on unnecessary work. When the criminal trader asked for even more money, Adam called in Trading Standards.
If it seems too good to be true…
He’s had sleepless nights ever since and was worried about leaving his home for a period in case the criminals returned. And unfortunately, he has been unable to get any of his money back. Adam says:
“The house is now a reminder of what happened to me. Now, I would go to Trading Standards Checked and ask them. The main thing is – doorstepping – do not trust anyone, even if you think you’re going to get a good job. Don’t trust them.”
No one’s immune
Everyone is vulnerable to falling for criminal traders at one time or another, regardless of age or personal circumstances. The most powerful form of defence against these criminals, for you, your family and your neighbours, is to be informed and be vigilant. And always be prepared to say no.
Never agree to having work carried out by cold-callers or sign up to high-pressure sales pitches. Always keep your door firmly closed to doorstep criminals. You can watch some of the shocking stories of financial abuse from doorstep crime victims here.
KCC Trading Standards Checked
The good news is that for Kent residents, finding reputable, trustworthy and safe traders has never been easier. Kent County Council’s Trading Standards Checked is the only scheme of its kind that thoroughly vets local businesses. This ensures that they operate to the high standards you would expect of anybody who carries out work on your home.
The T S Checked website provides a free searchable database of traders, so you can find someone in your area to carry out the work you need. Plumbing, decorating, landscaping, roofing, pest control and many other services are included. Trading Standards Checked traders can also be found by calling 03000 41 64 38.
Traders who have signed up to the scheme are required to submit documentation and information that is checked by Kent Trading Standards. The comprehensive 50-point check ensures traders adhere to consumer protection rules, that they are competent and capable of undertaking the work they commit to. And that they are accountable if something goes wrong.
Win-win for everyone
Adam Mortimer, Manager of Kent County Council Trading Standards Checked, said:
“We expect all the traders signed up to the scheme to be open and honest. We vet them to the highest standards, and many of them go above and beyond to keep their customers happy. The end result is a scheme that gives peace of mind to local residents and support to local businesses.
“It’s a win-win for everybody, except the doorstep criminals and rogue traders who will never be welcome in Kent.”
For traders themselves, membership of Kent County Council’s Trading Standards Checked scheme enables them to demonstrate that they are the best in the county. It also gives them access to a host of useful resources that can benefit their business. Membership to the scheme, subject to vetting, is available for the special rate of £99 +VAT until 31 March 2023. Traders can apply online.
To safeguard yourself and your neighbours against doorstep criminals, Kent residents are being called on to:
SPEAK UP. STAY SAFE.
Report every instance of fraudulent activity to Public Protection.
- To report doorstep criminals, call the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, completely anonymously.
- To report scams and get advice, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133
- If you feel threatened, call 999
The C-CARE project has a total budget of €6.7mn, which is funded by the European
Regional Development Fund via the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme.
The partner organisations involved in the project are:
- Kent County Council,
- Norfolk County Council,
- New Anglia LEP and
- Plymouth City Council
- France :
- Conseil Départemental du Finistère,
- Pas-de-Calais Tourisme and
- Campus d’Enseignment Supérieure et de Formation Professionnelle.
More information about the Interreg FCE programme:
Interreg France (Channel/Manche) England is an EU programme set up to foster economic
development in the south and east of the UK and north of France by funding
innovative projects which have a sustainable and economic benefit.
It focuses on a range of specific objectives including supporting innovation,
improving the attractiveness of the Channel area and developing low carbon
The programme has reached its funding commitment target and as of March 2021,
€217.5 million euros have been committed to 51 projects, involving 420 project
partners from public institutions to SMEs and regional authorities. The projects focus
on different sectors of the economy ranging from agri-food sector to med-tech and