The survey of 500 tradespeople found that over a third (39%) of tradespeople who have lent out their tools to friends, family, or workmates have had their ability to work negatively impacted as a result. Given the average earnings of tradespeople, this generosity could be costing them if they are unable to work as a result. A fifth (21%) say that their tools were returned two or more days late – and every day that a tradesperson is unable to work could cost them £1,002 or more.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, tradespeople most frequently lend tools to their workmates, with just 14% refusing to do so when asked. More than a quarter (29%) of workmates fail to return the tools on time, although of those who returned equipment or tools late, the vast majority (67%) returned the tools less than three days late.

When it comes to lending tools to members of their family, tradespeople are slightly more reluctant to do so than they would be to workmates – with good reason. Family members are the least likely to return borrowed tools on time, with over a third (34%) of tradespeople saying their borrowed equipment had been returned late.

It isn’t just family and workmates that tradespeople lend their tools to. Just 17% of tradespeople have said no after a friend had asked to borrow tools or equipment. Although, 49% admitted that they would only lend their tools if they were confident their mates could use them. While slightly less reliable than workmates, 70% of tradespeople said that their friends did return their tools on time. Friends are the most likely to offer to buy something in return – such as pint or a bottle of wine – after borrowing tools with 20% saying this had happened to them.

Alison Traboulsi, SME Product Manager at Direct Line Business insurance: “It can be difficult to say no to friends and family when it comes to lending out tools. Especially when they might well be borrowing them for an exciting reason. However, when tools and equipment aren’t returned on time and work is impacted, this can have significant financial implications and sour relationships. Ultimately, it’s about considering who you are lending your tools to, setting ground rules and trust.”