Fears of theft and violence affect van drivers' mental health

The fear of theft and violence is causing mental health worries for the nation's van users, according to a recent report.

In a survey carried out in December 2023 by specialist insurer NFU Mutual, the company found that more than nine in 10 tradespeople (92%) say they or someone they know have been a victim of theft.

In the last 12 months alone, 53% of those surveyed said they had experienced tool or equipment theft, just shy of half had materials pinched, almost three in 10 had a vehicle stolen and 23% were victims of organised crime.

And those figures clearly weigh heavily on those in the industry, with almost a third of tradespeople (29%) admitting that the fear of theft and violence on their business contributes towards difficulties with mental health.

The rising cost of living (42%), financial worries (41%), stress of the job (39%), long hours (35%) and a lack of regular work (33%) were the other factors.

Zoe Knight, Commercial Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: "Theft of tradespeople’s tools or equipment continues to blight the industry and the fact 92% of people surveyed say they – or someone they know – have been a victim speaks volumes.

"Tradespeople rely on this equipment for their income and livelihood, with crime hitting not just their pocket but, as our research shows, also having a huge and negative impact on their mental health."

A report by Builders Merchants News recently revealed that texts to a construction charity helpline had seen an increase of 105% after the launch of the initiative to take the mental health message across the UK.

That could pave the way for more open conversations, with NFU Mutual’s survey showing that more than half of respondents believe that mental health isn’t spoken about openly in the trades industry. Almost four in 10 (36%) said it is unlikely they would seek help if they had mental health problems.

Ask HJ

I discovered our privately bought van has accident damage - what are my rights?

I bought a used van privately in October 2022 (5 months ago). It has developed several faults during that time which I have put down to bad luck and had repaired — bad battery, faulty alternator, coolant leak. More recently, it has been overheating and turns out it needs a new head gasket. The car was advertised as having a reconditioned engine, which is clearly not true. Worse still the mechanic has told me that the van has been in a bad front-end collision and, although roadworthy, it has been repaired poorly and will need further work. I understand I have limited rights in terms of returning the van, but am I within my rights to ask the seller for a partial refund to cover these repairs?
As you bought the van from a private seller, rather than a dealer, then you have limited rights. Private sales are generally "buyer beware", which means that it's up to you to do your own checks and make sure you're happy with the condition of the vehicle before you buy it. In general, when buying a used vehicle privately, you have the right to expect that it's roadworthy, as described and that it matches any representations the seller made. If the vehicle doesn't meet these standards, then you may have a case for a refund or compensation, but you'll need to prove that the faults were present at the time of sale, rather than developing afterwards. If the seller made false claims about the vehicle, such as advertising it as having a reconditioned engine when it doesn't, then you may have a stronger case for a refund or partial refund. However, you'll need to prove that the seller made the claims and that you relied on them when making your decision to buy the van. If you do decide to pursue a refund or compensation, it's a good idea to get legal advice and to keep records of any communications with the seller, as well as any receipts for repairs or other expenses related to the faults. Citizens Advice may be able to help you further.
Answered by David Ross
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