Your Business Premises and Metal Theft: Have You Got What It Takes?

It’s easy to consider your bricks-and-mortar premises as being just that, but actually most buildings contain another vital material – metal.  Whilst it might be just part of the building to you, someone interested in a little recycling of the criminal kind, can quickly and easily remove the metal in and on your premises.  So what can you do about it?

Learn the Facts

Metal theft, defined by the Home Office as “thefts of items for the value of their constituent metals” is a growing crime, which falls within the criminal classifications of burglary and theft. According to Home Office statistics, based on metal theft offences in England and Wales, 61,349 metal thefts were recorded by police between April 2012 and March 2013, justifying concern about increasing incidences of metal theft, the driver behind a Home Office push for legislation to tighten the inadequate and outdated Scrap Metal Dealers Act of 1964.

Learn Why this Crime Pays

Acknowledging metal theft as “a fast growing acquisitive crime with over 7,000 police reported crimes a month” Lord Henley’s legislation, proposed in 2012, aims to remove the biggest motivation behind metal theft – cold, hard cash – by prohibiting anonymous sales of metal for cash.   Additionally, the new legislation makes scrap metal dealers more accountable for any involvement (unwitting or not) with metal theft by increasing the penalties within the existing act.police investigate metal thefts

Learn what they’re After

However, on-going legislation isn’t enough to currently buck this growing trend.  In an economic climate which sees many individuals with a downturn in cash flow but an upturn of metal prices (the cash value of many metals has steadily increased since the start of the Millennium) thieves target any items containing saleable metal: air conditioning units with copper tubing; palladium in catalytic converters; roofing lead; copper from cables, you name it. These desirables, classified by the police in two ways, include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Infrastructure-related items: these directly impact the functioning infrastructure of your premises or machinery, including cabling and tubing for water, electricity, heating and other services; roofing lead; catalytic converters and manhole covers.  Another infrastructural example is railway cabling, the highly publicised theft of which presents major problems for the UK’s railway companies – and their passengers.
  •  Non-Infrastructure-related items: these don’t affect your building, but may affect your business: metal gates; redundant metal; plaques and statues; boat propellers; even steel baking trays from a bakery, for example.

Learn About Your Locality

metal-theft---cableSo how can Home Office interest and intervention in metal theft help you protect your premises?  By monitoring this growing crime, the HO provides statistics which could enable you to identify the extent of the problem in your locality.  For example, those most recent statistics indicate Cleveland, Durham, Lancashire, South Yorkshire, the City of London, Kent and Gwent as having a high prevalence of metal theft, whilst West Yorkshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire are not far behind. This knowledge enables you to:

  • Take preventative measures.
  • Check your buildings and contents insurance policies to ensure you have adequate cover and if necessary, update your insurance if you feel your business is high-risk for metal theft.
  • Double-check the small print of all policies to ensure you’re not inadvertently invalidating your cover, for example by having scaffolding up for building works (your insurance company should be informed of this).

Learn About Prevention

Then what can you physically do to prevent costly, inconvenient metal theft from your business premises?

  • Check the crime prevention pages of your local county police service website.  Most of these now offer standard metal theft prevention advice based on how metal thieves operate in your area, so this information is likely to be relevant, as well as useful.
  • Remove anything which thieves can use to gain access: ladders; water butts; outside furniture; tall trees (although check council rules about this).
  • Fit a lockable, gated access to maintain security.  If shared access makes this difficult, see if other business or property owners who share the access know the risks and will share the costs, to improve their own security too.
  • Install warning notices requesting the public to use the police 101 hotline number to report any suspicious activity.
  • Consult with your local council and / or a reputable security company about using additional measures such as anti-climb paint and roof lighting, for security.
  • Mark your property so that it can be identified as stolen if thieves take it.

By learning all you can about preventing metal theft, you’ll have what it takes to minimise risk to your property and business, your insurance premiums and the local crime rate. For more ways to protect your premises against metal theft visit Safe Site Facilities and enquire about one of the many purpose built security products.

Article written by Alex Murray, Community Co-ordinator for Safe Site Facilities

Capital Allowances for your Business Property

Save money with capital allowancesCapital allowance is not the most easy to understand topic in the world, nor is it the most riveting, but it can save you money. In its simplest form capital allowance is a method of factoring in depreciation for tax purposes. What it means is that you will be able to write off the cost of the asset based on the type of asset and the rate of depreciation.
The following assets are eligible to be claimed as capital allowance:

  • Plant and machinery costs
  • Vehicles, machines, tools, equipment, computers, furniture etc.
  • Some forms of construction i.e. property improvement and converting property above commercial buildings to rent as flats

You can easily find out more about what can and can’t be claimed under capital allowance from the Capital Allowances Act 2001. Capital allowance is most commonly associated with businesses but there are situations where you may be able to claim for items used at a personal property. Safe Site Facilities have a guide detailing those situations that may be of interest. Although be aware that if used on a personal property you will only be able to claim on the portion of the asset that relates to your trade or business.

For Business Property

Now that you understand a bit about capital allowance and how it works we’ll take a look at how it applies to business properties and what it could mean for you if you can claim under one of the following areas.

Renovating Business Premises:
The whole idea behind BPRA or Business Premises Renovation Allowance is to encourage the development of empty business properties located in ‘assisted areas’. The act provides 100% tax allowance for expenses incurred when renovating or converting vacant commercial building located within these disadvantaged areas. You can find more information regarding this act and what constitutes a disadvantaged area by visiting the HMRC website.

Also be aware that in order to receive this tax allowance the business premises must qualify by being from one of the following sectors:

  • Shipbuilding
  • Coal industry
  • Steel industry
  • Fisheries
  • Synthetic fibres
  • Certain agricultural products
  • Milk or milk substitutes

Tax and allowancesProperty Fixtures:
At the time of a property being sold or purchased the assets, for which capital allowances have been claimed, will need to be quantified for their contribution to the overall sale price.

As of April 2012 this portion of the purchase price must be agreed with the other party. The simplest way to do this is via a joint election (a section 198 or 199) which must be communicated to HMRC within a period of 2 years.


Make sure that the election includes:

  • A description of the fixtures and their agreed value
  • Information identifying both the buyer and the seller
  • Details of the property

However if an agreement can’t be reached over the value of these assets then the case can be referred to a First Tier Tribunal. Again this must be done within 2 years.

Hopefully this article has provided some insights into the world of capital allowances. While the documentation can be hard going at times, ultimately there is money to be saved by claiming capital allowance where possible. One of the best places to start your quest is the HMRC website.

Article by Alex Murray – Community Coordinator, Safe Site Facilities.

2013 Budget Round Up

New Build HousingSo the 2013 budget came and went. As usual reactions to the Chancellor’s fiscal measures have been both positive and negative. The construction industry, although on the surface, seems to have gained a boost, will it really pan out that way?

Let’s look at the two main areas:

  • infrastructure
  • housebuilding


In the 2013 budget, George Osbourne reiterated his commitment to the £40billion guarantee scheme for the UK’s infrastructure. Although this scheme was announced in July 2012 only 2 projects thus far have benefited from it.

The Chancellor remained pretty vague when it came to how and where this money would be used over the coming year while the construction industry waited with bated breath to hear that specific projects and work had been identified for this money. It didn’t come.

In addition a further £3billion was allocated for roads and power stations but again a considerable lack of detail was presented.

Although this money is a welcome input to the industry, confidence remains low as to when and how this money will be spent or if it ever will!


So, we now have £3.5billion to help first time buyers get on the property ladder. The housing industry is still struggling in terms of new build numbers and in terms of sales by the consumer. The Chancellors answer is to offer a loan of up to 20% of the cost of the property and in addition a mortgage-backed guarantee of up to 20% of the Loan to Value of the property. The only proviso being that the buyer has to have at least a 5% deposit. The limit of the property purchase price is capped at £600,000.

So why is this good? Well it is hoped this will stimulate the new build market, not only in sales but also to help generate new housing projects. The doubters are worried this may create reckless loaning or a false ‘bubble’ which will burst when the funding runs out.

However if these measures pan out, it will certainly help the buyer but will it really help the industry? Unlikely. I believe that the investment and stimulation needs to come further up the food chain, more towards the source, in order to get our housebuilders back on site.

At the moment the number of new build homes being built is around 90,000 a year. Predictions indicate a need for 230,000 a year. This is a huge deficit in numbers and one which I am not sure will be cured with a small and possibly very temporary pot of money for first time buyers.

I guess we will just have to wait and see…

Lobbyists push affordable housing for 2013 budget

Affordable Housing MarketWith only just over a week to go before the 2013 budget, lobbyists are still pressuring the government over their plans to support affordable housing in the UK over the coming year.

Both the CBI and British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) have been pushing for a clear commitment to build between 50-100,000 new homes over the next 3 years. Clearly new affordable homes do not come without significant cos,  so where is the money going to come from?

The CBI says their estimates of £1.25 billion for 50,000 affordable homes could be found from current spending, from savings within government departments and further sales of land and property plus additional funds from the wider economy.

The BCC estimates the spend needed would be £30 billion to ensure 100,000 new homes over the next 3 years but without growth in the affordable housing sector over the next six months, it may be necessary to borrow more to build these homes.

With the budget announcement due on March 20th it is unlikely these final pressures will affect any changes to the plan already decided by Mr Osbourne.

With the financial future of the UK still looking very vulnerable, the government has a very difficult job. The UK needs money in order to stimulate growth but on the flip side, this only serves to increase the already huge deficit we are facing.

Finding the balance between incentive and savings is an unenviable task for Mr Osbourne and one which is unlikely to suit everyone.

Many MP’s are unhappy that much of the public spending funds are already ring fenced which leaves little opportunity to successfully support other areas of the public sector which need more help.

New housing is essential to keep property at an affordable level but also to help employment in the construction sector.

It will certainly be interesting to hear whether the housing industry in particular, will reap some rewards from this year’s budget or continue to expect tough times ahead.


Underfloor Insulation – the choices

Insumate Floor TrayAs energy prices rise and purse strings are pulled, low cost, effective ways of saving household energy are more than ever in demand.

There has long been massive emphasis on the importance of insulating roof space and walls, but it’s a fair bet that not so many people think about floors. An un-insulated floor can sap up to 20% of the heat from your home. Cold air getting into the underfloor void causes draughts and heat to be lost more rapidly.

In the past, the only methods of installing insulation within suspended timber floors was with fishing nets or chicken wire. These primitive techniques are subject to numerous problems. The insulation which the wire and nets support, can sag, or become compacted. Both these problems reduce how effective the insulation is. Furthermore, the wire and netting does not shield the insulation against the sub-floor draughts. This means that, over time, any investment in underfloor insulation may not achieve the impact on your household bills you had hoped for.

To overcome these issues, Insumate Ltd has brought to market the Insumate insulation support tray.

The tray, which is manufactured within the UK from recycled polypropylene, can be quickly installed to support any insulation material between joists. It offers a shield against the underfloor draughts. The polypropylene construction means 70% of the underside of the insulation is covered. Plus, unlike nets or wire, the Insumate tray supports all of the surface area of the underfloor insulation. This alleviates the issue of any compaction or sagging.

The Insumate tray is also much quicker to install that any netting or wire. Up to 50m² can be installed within 30 minutes, by one person. The trays can be fitted from above or below simply by using a hand held stapler. Installation efficiency is also continued into the first fix stage of any project, as the Insumate tray offers a dedicated services void. This means any wires or pipes don’t have to be fitted within the insulation material.

The Insumate tray is available nationwide through the Travis Perkins group network.

Article by Luke Gooding, Insumate Ltd

Make life easier with a Laundry Chute

Laundtry Chute DropHow often have you cursed about that slog down the stairs, carrying heavy loads of dirty laundry? Unable to see where you’re putting your feet; nose stuck in a tangle of sweaty socks; smalls escaping from the pile leaving a tell-tale trail … there must be a better way. Good news – there is!

While the laundry chute is a common feature of homes in the US, in the UK they are often thought of as costly or luxury addition when designing or building a home. However, this does not have to be the case. A laundry chute may well be one of the best investments you make, adding considerable comfort and value to your property and making life just that bit easier. Regardless of the size of the building, laundry chutes can be quickly, inexpensively and easily installed, and will continue to deliver noticeable benefits time and time again.

Simple to do

Laundry chutes from GED Chute Solutions are extremely easy to install; in many cases the sections have a basic male and female push connection, allowing them to be quickly and firmly assembled. Once constructed, the system simply needs to be bracketed to the wall, with the fire doors fixed securely at every entrance.

The laundry chute sections can be made available in a wide range of diameters; this makes them highly flexible and allows them to be adapted to meet the requirements of each individual building.

Exposed Laundry ChuteOften on new build projects, the entire chute is designed to be completely concealed within natural voids, keeping rooms uncluttered. The laundry chute entrance can also be designed to come out at the back of a wardrobe or cupboard. This allows it to be easily accessed while also avoiding any compromise on the final aesthetic of the room.

Alternatively, an even cheaper approach, ideally suited for two-storey properties, is to run the chute directly through the floor of an upstairs room to the intended laundry room. In this way the laundry chute delivers the same time-saving and health benefits while its upper entrance simply occupies the space that would have been taken by a laundry basket.

A doddle to design, GED laundry chute doors are also available in a stainless steel finish or pre–primed ready to paint to match any internal decor. The chutes themselves can even be made into a feature. I mean, what child would not want a space rocket in their room?

Houston, we no longer have a problem moving our laundry …

Guest post written by Neil Dolan, MD, GED Laundry Chutes Ltd

How safe is your fire door?

Ahmarra Limetree Fire Door When is a fire door not a fire door? When it is incorrectly installed – then it can pose a significant risk.

The role of the fire doorset is to prevent fire from spreading from its source to other parts of the building by effectively closing off the room in which the fire started. So far, so good and all very responsible. But to be successful, the doorset has to be manufactured and installed absolutely correctly.

Alarmingly, a high percentage of fire door installations are being made by contractors buying all the components separately and constructing the assembly on the building site. This is where danger can lurk. If fire doors are not installed properly, their fire-resistance can be seriously compromised.

Ahmarra Fire Door at GatwickSo how can customers be sure their fire door is fulfilling the role it is supposed to do? It’s worth knowing about the BM TRADA Q-Mark Fire Door Manufacturer Scheme. This has been designed to allow fire-door manufacturers to demonstrate that their doors meet the standards required, and to provide ongoing reassurance that their product is fit for purpose.

Ahmarra is a member of the BM TRADA Q-Mark Fire Door Manufacturer Scheme and the BM TRADA Fire Door Registered Installer Scheme. We are one of the few specialist fire doorset manufacturers who can also offer an installation service with the ability to certify every aspect of the performance of a doorset.

Tim Doran, Managing Director, Ahmarra
Tim Doran, Managing Director, Ahmarra

Safety is the most important plus factor of factory-hung fire rated doorsets, there are many other benefits, including major savings in time and money. That’s a big tick in anyone’s book and it’s no wonder more and more contractors are advocating the use of pre-hung doorsets.

With a Q-Mark certification, as well as excellent environmental credentials in terms of FSC/PEFC certification, Ahmarra is able to meet the supply chain criteria for many of the top UK construction companies.

Post written by Tim Doran, Managing Director, Ahmarra.

Recession? Blame it on the Construction Industry

Roof Trusses on HouseThe end of January saw another negative report about the UK construction industry contracting for another month. Although the UK construction industry accounts for less than 7% of Gross Domestic Product, it is consistently blamed for keeping the UK in recession. This may or may not be the case as within every industry there are areas which gain and lose during tough economic times. However I wonder what the real reasons for lack of progress really boils down to. My own opinion hails back to the financial sector.

There were reports that demand was weak and a lack of new project accounted for much of the poor performance. However if we look further down the food chain, in my view it can only be as a result of the financial crisis. Many of the projects promised by government have been scrapped to cut the deficit and  many private housing projects have been abandoned due to lack of finance from banks. All of this harps back to the original sin which the banking sector initiated and which clearly is still ongoing, with fines and punishments being handed out across the globe.

How can the construction sector bolster its output with such ongoing uncertainty and lack of project commitment and funding? Well it can’t but yet it bears the brunt of responsibility for keeping the UK in recession. This financial crisis and economic situation is going to last a very long time; I think we all have to face this fact. As such everyone within the building industry has to look beyond the old means and ways of gaining new business and look towards diversifying and perhaps look at brand new methods and means to keep afloat.

However for me the blame lies firmly with the financial crisis we find ourselves in, reckless trading and funding over many years has now brought us to a decade or two of tough times. This flows through every sector, not just the construction industry and this in my view is what will keep the UK dipping in and out of recession for the foreseeable future. Is it really fair that the construction industry has to bear the brunt of the blame for our ongoing recession!?