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ESC welcomes select committee report on Part P

The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) has welcomed the report by the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Select Committee which supports the retention of Part P.

Phil Buckle, the Director General of the ESC

The Committee's report presents the findings of an inquiry into the Building Regulations applying to electrical and gas installation and repairs in dwellings. It will feed into the Government's ongoing review of the Building Regulations for England, which has been established with a view to reducing red tape and cutting costs.

The ESC is encouraged that the Select Committee considers Part P as '...adequate in its current form and ...should not be reduced, although there is need for improvement in its operation.'[1]

It also notes that: 'from the evidence we have received, we are satisfied that Part P has been successful in driving up standards and in reducing the number of electrical faults' [2].

This is particularly encouraging as Part P provides the only legal protection for householders in England having electrical work done in their homes and scrapping or watering it down could put users of electricity at risk.

The report also highlights the lack of public understanding of Part P and makes a number of recommendations. These include:
· The labelling of electrical equipment sold by DIY stores to warn that it is illegal for an unregistered person to undertake most electrical work in the home without checks by a competent person
· The Government to co-ordinate industry efforts to raise public awareness of the need for electrical and gas safety
· Any public awareness campaign should alert people to the dangers of using unqualified electricians and the need to regularly check electrical circuits in the home

Phil Buckle, the Director General of the ESC (pictured), who was among those who gave evidence to the Select Committee during its investigation, commented: "We welcome the recommendations made in the Select Committee report, particularly those relating to the need to increase public awareness and understanding of electrical safety and Part P in particular. Our research [3] has found that just 20% of people in England and Wales had heard of Part P and, of those, over half stated that they either knew nothing about it, or very little. We also believe the ESC is ideally placed to support the Government in any public information activity, as our extensive expertise in both consumer and industry campaigning could help ensure an integrated approach to the promotion of Part P."

Part P was introduced in 2005 to reduce the number of electrical accidents, deaths and fires in UK homes and improve working standards among domestic contractors. It is the only legal framework in England that protects the consumer from unsafe electrical work in the home. However, it has been criticised for its cost and the bureaucracy it imposes on contractors and building control bodies.

The Government is currently undertaking a public consultation on Part P. The consultation will close on 27 April 2012, with any deregulatory changes coming into force in April 2013. Any amendments with a regulatory impact will take effect in October 2013.

[1] CLG Select Committee Report – ‘Building regulations applying to electrical and gas installation and repairs in dwellings’ – summary
[2] Ibid page 17
[3] Data source: Ipsos MORI Capibus survey. Research undertaken 9-15 March 2012, with a total of 1,742 interviews conducted

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