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Campaign for the retention of Part P

In December 2010, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announced a review of the Building Regulations in England, including Part P, currently the only legal framework to cover electrical installation work done in the home.

Housing Minister Huw Lewis is in the news

It became clear that there was a real and serious risk that it may be abolished because of the Government’s deregulation agenda.

Over the past year, the ESC has helped to raise awareness amongst decision-makers of the role that Part P has played in significantly reducing the risk of electrical fires and improving the quality of home electrical installations throughout the UK.

They helped to instigate and give evidence to a DCLG Select Committee Inquiry into domestic electrical safety, which came down firmly in favour of retaining Part P and called on the government to do more to promote awareness. It also called on DIY stores to place warnings on electrical equipment.

The consultation has now closed and the announcement of a final decision on the future of Part P is expected in the autumn, with legislation coming into force early in 2013. The ESC expects that Part P will be retained but with some amendments that will see minor works removed. Ahead of the autumn, they will be continuing to advocate its retention.

As well as its work on Part P, the ESC has made progress in advocating for improved standards in the private rented sector in Westminster, recently holding a roundtable with Derbyshire MPs to discuss RCDs and fire safety in the county.

They have made significant progress in Scotland. In February the Scottish government launched a consultation on content for a Tenant Information Pack (TIP). As a result of the ESC’s meetings with Scottish officials, the consultation included a requirement to provide essential information on health and safety issues within accommodation, including electrical appliances and installations.

The ESC’s response to the consultation recommends that TIPs should go further in promoting electrical safety through inclusion of:
• Proof that an inspection of the electrics has been carried out every five years by a qualified electrician
• Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)
• A statement about whether an RCD is installed in the property and what type

The ESC is also making progress in Wales and has had good initial discussions with Assembly Members regarding the inclusion of electrical safety in the Welsh Housing Strategy. These led to Mike Hedges AM and Peter Black AM questioning Housing Minister Huw Lewis (pictured) on the issue, and the ESC is optimistic that action will be taken on housing conditions as part of new measures being introduced.

In the year ahead, the ESC states that it will build on the engagement it has in Scotland and Wales as well as continuing to advocate for the retention of Part P of the Building Regulations in England. It will also be engaging with local councils to discuss their strategies for ensuring safety in privately rented accommodation.

The statutory requirements for electrical installations are different in England and Wales from those in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Electricians carrying out work in England and Wales have to comply with Part P of the Building Regulations whereas in Scotland it is the Building Standards system. At the present time, Northern Ireland has no equivalent statutory requirement.

In January 2012, the Government launched a public consultation on Part P of the Building Regulations for England. This consultation closed on 27th April and any deregulatory changes will come into force in April 2013. Any amendments with a regulatory impact will take effect in October 2013.

The ESC has submitted its response, which, whilst broadly welcoming the proposals to reduce the regulatory and cost burdens of Part P on industry, expresses concerns about the potential impact that a ‘watered down’ version of the Regulation could have on consumer safety. It is particularly concerned with the government’s preferred course of removing electrical work in bathrooms, kitchens and outdoors from the scope of Part P and urges that these areas be retained as notifiable, due to the increased risks to householders.

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