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Survey: Is It Wrong For Trades People To Take Cash Payments?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 25th July 2012

So there has been a lot of debate over the last few days about whether it is right or wrong to pay cash to a tradesperson. However many people have probably missed the key point about what David Gauke the tax minister said:

“Getting a discount with your plumber by paying cash in hand is something that is a big cost to the Revenue and means others have to pay more in tax.

“I think it is morally wrong. It is illegal for the plumber but it is pretty implicit in those circumstances that there is a reason why there is a discount for cash. That is a large part of the hidden economy.”

This has been discussed at length on the radio, TV and press with most missing the point. The key point of what the tax minister said is that if you are offered a discount for paying in cash then this is quite clearly an agreement between the two parties to keep hush hush about the transaction.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with paying cash for any product or service after all cash is legal tender. However if you are handing over thousands of pounds for a service in cash I would be very wary too.

What people should also consider is that if they pay cash they have no comeback should there be a problem with the work that has been done. In fact it could mean if something goes wrong with the work done then it could end up costing much more if you need to get someone else in to fix the job.

In an industry where rogue traders are infamous my advice to anyone would be its fine to pay cash but not in exchange for a discount. It is also not advisable to pay large sums in cash regardless of whether there is a discount or not.

In fact if someone insists on cash payments for large sums of money I would run a mile. Any reputable builder, sparky, painter or decorator should be giving you a couple of options to pay including cheque or even card payments, should not be offering a discount for cash and should always supply a proper receipt for any work carried out.

I know many will claim that they are charged to process cheques and the like by their banks, however this should be taken into account when pricing up a job. If you do choose to pay cash even for a small discount this is still not illegal but just be sure you are given a proper receipt / invoice for the work done.

We want to collect responses on this so what do you think? Is it wrong to offer or accept a discount for cash jobs?

Trade Skills 4U responsible for the wettest summer on record!

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 20th July 2012

Back at the start of June we thought we would have a bit of fun and introduce a summer offer on our solar pv courses. In light of the horrendous weather we thought we would introduce an offer to last 40 days and 40 nights to mimic the biblical floods in Genesis. We even have a Noah in the office so were able to add his name to the banner too.






Now we knew the British weather could be rubbish at times but none of us really ever expected the downpour to last for 40 days and 40 nights. Well we were wrong, and since then we have seen nothing but grey wet skies over Gatwick and the surrounding areas. The UK has seen floods from Land's End to John O'Groats

So today is the 40th day and the offer is due to expire. Lo and behold the weather is set to clear up and the heat wave is on its way. We know that this has nothing to do with us but do find the timing somewhat spooky.

We hope the weather has nothing to do with us but just in case we won't be putting on any rain related offers again. You never know if your lucky we may introduce a heat wave related offer that runs to the end of the year.

Just in case you haven't seen it there are sunnier days ahead, all we can say is make sure you make the most of them as knowing this weather they won't be around for long:





Congratulations Alan Aldridge

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 18th July 2012

(Pictured above: Henry Smith MP, Carl Bennett Managing Director of TS4U, Alan Aldridge and Ali Tilbrook)

We first met Alan in the early stages of last year when we were building our renewable energy centre. After our investment in the development in the PV roof we wanted to echo this dedication in building 1st class solar thermal rigs and we called in Ecotube, which were at the time, a company product from Riomay. At the launch of our centre in 17th June 2011, we invited many industry contacts to the event but were particularly delighted when Alan and co-worker Ali Tilbrook arrived to congratulate us on the success of the centre, as their products have helped us deliver the best solar thermal training possible within our state of the art facility.

Our ties with Alan didn’t stop there as he actually took on one of our Forgotten Heroes bursary candidates that was awarded his place at the event. Mr Ian Lockie, a TS4U bursary candidate, left the forces following 9 years’ service as a RAF Regiment Gunner and like many was in search of a new challenge. However his new challenge wasn’t without limitations after Ian, a PTSD sufferer, found there was a lack of career prospects available to him. 

(Pictured above: Simon Weston O.B.E, Ian Lockie, Golden Zimmaestro and Carl Bennett MD)

Thanks to our bursary scheme, which offers to give away £100,00 every year to ex-military personnel who are struggling to get their feet on Civvy street, we were able to help him successfully complete his training as a domestic installer and solar pv installer thus making him employable with a set of skills no employer could resist. Alan saw his potential and agreed to take him on once he’d successfully completed his training – happy days.

Anyway without going too far off topic, we would like to wish Alan and the rest of the Solar Trade Association every success as they continue working together to promote and protect the solar industry.

Alan you have our full support, well done!

If you would like to know more about our renewable energy centre or our forgotten heroes bursary scheme, please click the links above which will take you to those pages.

Categories: event, open day, solar, resettlement, forgotten heroes bursary scheme, solar pv

The Olympic torch comes to Crawley!

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 17th July 2012

Over the 70 days in the run up to the Olympics, the torch will travel 8,000 miles via the 8,000 torch bearers that have shown to be a real inspiration to their family and friends. Today at day 60 of the Olympic torch route, the torch is run through Crawley, West Sussex – the home of Crawley FC and Britain’s Premier Electrical and Renewable Energy Training Company – Trade Skills 4U!


Categories: company news

Stand up and say 'I am' with the NICEIC

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 16th July 2012

Today the NICEIC has announced a new national advertising campaign that will be targeting a wide range of consumers and specifiers. Aptly called ‘I am’ the campaign is intended to raise awareness of their database of over 25,000 fully qualified electrical contractors, whilst focusing on the message ‘The Electricians Britain Trusts.’

I am will be seen by “landlords, facilities managers, architects, builders, letting agents, local authorities and housing associations over the next 6 months will hopefully help raise awareness of the important of hiring a qualified electrical installers,” said the NICEIC in a press statement.

“The eye catching designs will feature in a host of popular national titles including the Daily Mail, Daily Express and Sunday Telegraph.”


Trade Skills 4U are very proud to have the NICEIC on our list of accreditation bodies and have come together to offer an exclusive fast track service to becoming registered on the many schemes the NICEIC have to offer. Both companies believe it is important to not only promote the benefits of becoming registered but also make the process as easy, cost-effective and time efficient as possible, helping you the electrician get to work and start earning. This, along with a variety of discounts available to Trade Skills 4U customers, training with the UK’s premier electrical trainer couldn’t be any better!

To read about our fast track service with the NICEIC see our NICEIC fast track page.

We also offer a similar service with NAPIT. Visit our NAPIT offer page here.


Categories: electrical

Part P to reform

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 11th July 2012

Today we can reveal the government’s response to the Parliamentary Select Committees report on Part P of the building regulations which comes in the form of a 14 page document confirming that Part P will be made mandatory but improved.

This comes as no surprise seeing at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) indicated these findings in their report which was published in earlier this year. The report outlines the need for revisions however as government are “satisfied that Part P has been successful in driving up standards and in reducing the number of electrical faults. We would therefore be reluctant to endorse any diminution of the scope or operation of Part P, which might reverse that trend.”


In attempt to raise public awareness over electrical safety in the home, the government have said they “have introduced new provisions, which require scheme operators to promote and publicise the benefits of Competent Person Schemes and raise public awareness of the responsibility to comply with 12 the Building Regulations. We see merit in the scheme providers working in partnership with retailers and manufacturers and will encourage them to do so.” 

However the government feels that “There are already good examples of retailers providing the public with information on the Building Regulation and safety requirements.  The Government would welcome further voluntary action by retailers and manufacturers but at present the Government does not believe there is a need for regulation."

The DCLG have confirmed they will be “actively seeking all available evidence” before any final decisions. Any changes are likely to come into place in April 2013.

The full report can be downloaded here.


Categories: electrical, part p, government

New Quick Links To Buy Electrical Books

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 11th July 2012

In an age where you literally want to see – click – own, we understand the need to make the ‘online shopping process’ a smooth and effortless one. Seeing as we specialise in a service not a product, we have never really been able to actively present and display merchandise on our site, let alone point you to the products you may need the most.

As we provide technical know-how and an education as such, this requires more of an explanation to the service you will be receiving rather than visual prompts for shiny new tools. However in a twist of fate our service does come hand in hand with some recommendations and those recommendations are reading materials.

Now when I say reading material you know what I mean, it’s just a rather sophisticated way of saying books that you will need for your course. Books like the ‘onsite guide’ and ‘Electricians Guide to the Building Regs’ are books that you will not only need for your course, but blinking good books to have for reference in your career. As these are prone to revision so there is a real necessity to make sure we’re pointing you the most up to date editions. So behold our new quick click links which direct you straight to amazon (a website that allows you to buy pretty much everything at a great price) so you can buy the books you need with little hassle. Pow!

You will find these links on the bottom of most course pages that included recommended or required reading material. 

They look like this:

All you have to do is link the links and buy the book. We don’t mind if you want them delivered here or you’d prefer to have them delivered to your home address ready for some bedtime reading before your course – either way as long as you’re equipped with the bits you need to better your life and career then we’re happy. 

So enjoy your new stress free booking buying experience and remember -you owe us one.






Categories: electrical, company news

Curtains close on Wimbledon offer

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 9th July 2012

In the spirit of summer and Great British sport, we have been running some offers in conjunction with the many athletic events that are taking place at the moment.

Last month we held an offer sporting England in the Euro’s, and in true Wimbledon spirit we recently ran an offer of £150 off the solar PV course due to expire once GB representative, Andy Murray, lost the battle to be the tennis court king. Much to our surprise, and that of the nations due to our poor tennis heritage, I think it’s safe to say that Murray wowed us all by making it to the final last night against veteran Roger Federer. The tense game, which was neck and neck for the majority was finally won by Wimbledon veteran Federer allowing him to retain his Wimbledon crown and make history himself by equalling Pete Sampra’s record of achieving seven Wimbledon victories over the course of his career. Federer, now having won a total of 17 grand slams, has now restored his number one ranking in world class tennis.

Obviously this means the offer has now drawn to a close but who knows…maybe as the Olympics draws closer, we may have some more offers in store!

Watch this space.


Categories: solar, company news, renewable energy, solar pv

US and China Battling for control of Solar PV Manufacturing Sector

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 5th July 2012

If you haven’t already heard, there is currently a solar PV trade war raging between the US and China. Both governments have realised the importance of this lucrative market to the future energy mix and are keen to protect their manufacturers in this sector.

In the last year a number of American and European solar PV manufacturers have folded as the market has been flooded with cheaper panels and tools imported from China. It has been suggested that the Chinese panels are unfairly subsidised by the Chinese government and as a result the US Government was lobbied by a number of American Solar PV manufacturers, calling for Anti-Dumping tariffs to be introduced. In May 2012 the US government ruled in favour of introducing these tariffs (set at roughly 31%) and are set to finalise the legislation in October 2012. However any final decisions will be applied retrospectively meaning that sales of Chinese PV panels from now could be subject to the tariffs.

US Senator Charles Schumer said: “This proposal is tough, but it’s needed to successfully counter China’s unfair trade practices. This hard-hitting plan will level the playing field for U.S. solar producers so that they can compete, create jobs and become a global leader in this rapidly-growing industry.”

Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman, Shen Danyang, said "The U.S. ruling is unfair, and the Chinese side expresses its extreme dissatisfaction,"

China denies that the industry is unfairly subsidised and will fight this ruling. We are at the start of a political war waged between the two countries which will ultimately shape the manufacturing landscape of the future PV industry for many years to come.

In terms of US and European manufacturing this is very positive as it protects the companies who have been established for a long time. It also means that both the manufacturing and installation industries can grow in a sustainable manner.

However Chinese manufacturers are already facing problems with a surplus supply of their products. The US and Europe make up around 75% of their PV exports and if Anti-Dumping tariffs are introduced in Europe too this could mean that a number of Chinese PV manufacturers could potentially fold. The European market is actually bigger than the US and generates around 44% of Chinese PV exports. In fact it appears that the European Parliament is already being lobbied by a similar consortium of PV manufacturers and tariffs could be imminent.

The Tariffs could mean slightly higher costs of installation and longer payback periods for investors and this could potentially slow the industry down. A recent report by HIS in the US looked at the potential impact of the American tariffs and found that in fact the impact of these increased costs should not deter most investors as the ROI is still attractive.

Recent FIT cuts in the UK have been made based on the current cost of solar panels. If the European Anti-Dumping tariffs are introduced, it could well mean increased costs for a standard installation and a payback period which could stretch to the length of the life of the panels.

However this is unlikely to happen. It is most likely that Chinese manufacturers will find ways around being subject to these Anti-Dumping Tariffs by sourcing their raw materials from various international sources such as Taiwan.

In fact during the last month in the US the cost of solar panels still reduced very slightly. This may well be due to the surplus supply that is currently available.

As we examine the implementation of these Anti-Dumping Tariffs further it is clear that that there is a trade-off. It is important to protect our manufacturing industry to ensure that we don’t become as reliant on the East for Solar PV production as we have on fossil fuels. However by protecting this industry we are in turn slowing down the growth of this technology, it’s implementation and ultimately the amount of energy generated. This has an impact on the installers and the consumers who want to work with solar PV.

Also and more importantly from a green perspective anything that slows the industry down could be viewed as negative, however there have been accusations of Chinese firms not properly disposing of waste products to reduce costs which could mean the current crop of Chinese solar panels could potentially have a hidden environmental cost.

At the end of the day the Anti-Dumping tariffs have been implemented for a reason, to level the playing field. This means what we should see is continued growth at a level that should be sustainable. In the long term it also means greater stability for all in this still very young industry.

It is likely that the trade dispute will continue for some time. We are also likely to see tit for tat actions from China and the US as the dispute intensifies. One such action has already started with Chinese PV manufacturers demanding that their government impose similar Tariffs on imports of Polysilicon from the USA.

Unfortunately it appears that the business of Solar PV has taken centre stage rather than it’s green benefits. This is not an industry that anyone is going to want to give up or allow to be dominated by one nation and it looks that until the battle lines are drawn the market as a whole may suffer as a result.

Categories: renewable energy, solar pv