I was alarmed to read Audit Scotland's report that half of our local authorities employ so few trading standards officers they may no longer be able to provide an acceptable service ("Staff cutbacks put public at risk of scams", The Herald, January 31).

Trading standards have a crucial role protecting reputable traders. To the frustration of responsible builders, hard-pressed consumers increasingly opt for the contractor willing to lose the VAT then often do a botched job.

Post-devolution, neither Holyrood nor Westminster have taken responsibility for consumer protection. With trading standards budgets being slashed, the Scottish Government should give more support to existing industry trusted trader schemes such as the one run by the Construction Licensing Executive. These schemes give the consumer peace of mind their trader is properly insured, qualified and audited and will give a warranty for their work. Government backing is crucial to encourage more consumers to use these schemes and avoid the misery of shoddy goods and services.

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Michael Levack, Executive Director, Scottish Building Federation, Crichton House, 4 Crichton's Close, Edinburgh.