News item

Bunglers cost Brits more than burglars

Incompetent tradesmen have cost UK homeowners an estimated £1.9 billion over the last year – five times more than domestic burglary claims over the same period. 

For the 18 million British homeowners who have employed tradesmen in the last 12 months –  ranging from roofers to renderers, plumbers to patio contractors - almost one in five (17%) have had to have at least part of the work re-done at an average cost of £600 per household.

The findings come from a survey of more than 2,000 British homeowners and a separate analysis of responses from over 300 TrustMark tradesmen which have been published today by TrustMark, the only Government-endorsed ‘find a tradesman’ scheme for all home repair and improvement work.

The results indicate that homeowners don’t do their homework before hiring a tradesman: a quarter of respondents (26%) said they didn’t know where to find impartial information on choosing a tradesman to carry out work in their homes; and only 26% of homeowners cited a recommendation from friends or family as the key reason for employing a tradesman.

Alarmingly, the report illustrates that one million homeowners (6%) in the last 12 months said that they selected their tradesmen based on the cheapest quote; a factor which 84% of tradesmen considered as the main reason that homeowners end up with poor workmanship.

In light of these findings, and in a move to give homeowners more reassurance and greater protection than ever before, TrustMark, in partnership with Consumer Minister Jenny Willotts, are launching the most comprehensive set of standards for tradesmen seen to date.

These standards will apply to TrustMark’s largest register of vetted tradesmen in the UK, and will ensure that homeowners have access to quality reliable tradesmen who undergo more rigorous, expert checks than those registered with any other scheme. 

Commenting on the launch of the new set of TrustMark standards, Consumer Minister, Jenny Willott said:

“TrustMark gives consumers more confidence in their tradesman when spending their hard earned cash. Every trader who has signed up to the scheme has been independently assessed for their competence. 

“We want to put rogue or unscrupulous tradesmen out of business. One of the best ways to do this is to pick out the best businesses, so people know where to turn first for their home improvements, maintenance and repairs. 

“I would encourage all legitimate and honest tradesman to sign up to this scheme.”

Liz Male, Chairman of TrustMark commented: 

“Something that has become increasingly apparent is that people need a reliable and trustworthy source for finding trusted and good quality local tradesmen. This is where TrustMark comes in. 

“Unlike many other ‘find a tradesman’ schemes, TrustMark is not an advertising directory or a website that sells leads. It is a not-for-profit organisation which means that is does not make money from consumers.

“We are using these new standards to set the bar at the highest level for tradesmen, and to empower homeowners to expect the very best from the tradesmen who work in their homes.”

The majority of home owners (57%) who hired a tradesmen to work on their home in the last 12 months said they didn’t check their qualifications, and just 2% of homeowners felt that having the best technical qualifications was the most important factor in making the choice. The surveyed tradesmen concur, with one in five (20%) saying they are never asked about their qualifications.

Conversely, ‘lack of technical skill’ to do the job in question was overwhelmingly cited as the most prevalent problem tradesmen they come across when called on to repair botch jobs (91%) and also the most expensive to fix in the view of almost half of the tradesmen questioned (47%). 

It is also clear from the report that homeowners feel at a loss when it comes to dealing with the consequences of unsatisfactory work. Two fifths of those who have employed a tradesman in the last 12 months (41%) said they were not confident in knowing where to report any problems and a third (34%) said that they would not know how to get a problem resolved. 

Andy Foster, operations and policy director at the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) said:

"TrustMark have been long standing partners of the Trading Standards Institute and represent a vital pillar in the consumer protection landscape.  For many consumers, choosing a trade is a confusing and often daunting process and TrustMark is the visible symbol of trust that consumers need to help them make better choices and thus avoid potential disputes.

“All those involved will know however, that the work doesn’t stop here.  If we are serious about making a difference for consumers and honest trades then the continual improvement in core standards and closer alignment with trading standards will be absolutely necessary to build on that trust and generate greater critical mass so all consumers can benefit across the UK. We wish TrustMark every success with the new core standards and look forward to fostering a closer partnership as TrustMark turns a new page in its future success.”


Issued on behalf of TrustMark - For further information or photos, please contact: 

Elizabeth Jones on or via 07825077686 / 0207 249 7769 


Alexia Latham on or on 07557109755 / 02072497769


Elena Radicati on or on 07583273192 / 02072497769

Notes to Editors


  • ComRes interviewed 2,678 British homeowners online between the 14th and 20th March 2014 on behalf of WithPR. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are available at 
  • In 2013, gross incurred claims for domestic theft stood at £340m according to the Association of British Insurers. 


About TrustMark

  • TrustMark is the most comprehensive and reliable ‘find a tradesman’ scheme for all home repair and improvement work. It is the only scheme which operates according to Government-endorsed standards.
  • TrustMark offers the largest database of accredited tradesmen in the country with details of more than 21,000 licensed trades with an easy to use UK wide postcode search facility.
  • TrustMark tradesmen undergo more rigorous, independent expert checks than any other kitemark scheme. All TrustMark firms’ technical skills have been independently checked through on-site inspections to ensure a high quality of workmanship and trading practices.  
  • Furthermore, TrustMark is the only scheme that requires qualified inspectors to do these visits, so that technical competence is checked as well as business practices and customer satisfaction. 
  • TrustMark is launching the most comprehensive set of standards to date for their registered tradesmen, to give homeowners better protection and peace of mind.  
  • TrustMark firms are able to offer insurance backed warranties and deposit protection, as well as operating a user-friendly complaints procedure. 
  • TrustMark is not an advertising directory or a website that sells leads. It is a registered social enterprise, operated under licence from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). As a not-for-profit organisation it does not make money from consumers 


About Jenny Willott MP

Jenny Willott was appointed Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Women and Equalities Minister in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in December 2013, covering Jo Swinson MP’s maternity leave. She continues to be an Assistant Government Whip, and has been the Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central since 2005.

7 April 2014