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Select Committee finding needs industry sense check

Plans to overhaul the competent person’s scheme for domestic installers could prove burdensome for electrical contracting firms.  

That is the view of NICEIC and ELECSA in response to parliamentary recommendations for all domestic electricians to have a qualification equivalent to NVQ level 3 within the next five years.  

“Whilst we welcome many of the recommendations made by the committee we believe the requirement on all individuals, irrespective of the size of the firm or the work the individual undertakes, within a business to be fully qualified places a huge onus on firms,” commented Emma Clancy CEO of Certsure, which operates the NICEIC and ELECSA brands.  

“To have all employees up to a Quality Supervisor (QS) level will push up costs and reduce the need for apprentices. The industry will suffer in the long term. It is also no guarantee to raise standards.  

“The QS system, which Part P is based on, is proven to work and as the committee states in its report has actually pushed domestic electrical installation standards up in recent years.”  

Under the current QS system, which all competent person scheme operators use, a firm must employ at least one qualified supervisor with a qualification equivalent to NVQ level 3. The QS is responsible for the final checking of work and the sign off that it has been tested and inspected in accordance with the appropriate standards and regulations. 

“I think we need to be clear that the majority of electricians out there, working in people’s homes, are fully qualified and competent to carry out the work required of them.  

“Around 80 per cent of the work carried out under Part P is done so by sole traders who have the appropriate qualifications and are able to test and inspect their own work.  

“The view that some firms are sending out unqualified electricians, with just a few weeks training, to carry out jobs such as full rewires, unchecked, is simply not accurate. The majority of firms realise their responsibility to carry out work which is safe and to the required standard.  

“The QS system has worked in the industry for more than 50 years. The QS is legally responsible to ensure the work is carried out to standard - it is not a simple box ticking exercise.  

“There are many different roles within a firm, each with varying responsibilities. The QS system allows firms to manage accordingly. Should you have to be trained to QS level to chase out walls for instance? Where is the evidence of such qualifications needed across the rest of the building sector?  NICEIC and ELECSA have welcomed other recommendations in the report. In particular;  

  • Calls for an annual limit on the number of jobs that a single QS can review  
  • Action from the government to raise public awareness of Part P - similar to that of Gas Safe  
  • Proactive enforcement against those who breach Part P and those who work outside of competent person schemes  
  • A single register for all Part P electricians covering all schemes  

“Our industry is not perfect and we agree the system can be improved so we welcome the committee’s comments,” added Emma.  “Indeed many of the recommendations such as a single register we are already working on and will have in operation by June.  

“We have run several public consumer campaigns reminding consumers about their responsibilities in relation to Part P and are the only scheme operator with a wall of shame which publically names rogue firms that work outside the rules. We work closely with trading standards to ensure these firms are fined accordingly  

“The competent person scheme was based on our model and we will continue to adapt and evolve our business accordingly to work within the guidelines provided by central government.”   

Published 06 March 2014

Electrical contractor fined for misuse of NICEIC logo

An electrical contractor has been sentenced for carrying out dangerous electrical work whilst fraudulently claiming to be registered with NICEIC.

In January this year London based David Taylor, who trades under the name of DT Property Maintenance and Electrical Contractors, was found guilty of leaving jobs unfinished and homes unfit for human habitation.

The action was taken by Hackney Council’s Trading Standards who took Taylor to Snaresbrook Crown Court after he left jobs with dangerous electrical rewiring that required urgent work to put right. As well as this, a roof that was leaking had to be replaced, and in all cases his efforts required other contractors to remedy the poor workmanship, costing the residents in excess of £10,000 on top of what they had paid Mr. Taylor.

In November 2013 Mr. Taylor was also found guilty at trial at Isleworth Crown Court, for committing a fraud against his employer. This case was brought to court by the Metropolitan Police.

Taylor pleaded guilty to 12 counts under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, including the unauthorised use of the NICEIC, Trustmark and Part P logo.

He was sentenced to eight months for the trading standards offences, and a further 12 for the action taken by Metropolitan Police - both suspended for two years at Isleworth Crown Court.

Hackney Council Trading Standards worked in conjunction with NICEIC.

Hackney Councillor Feryal Demirci, said: “Hackney Council’s Trading Standards Officers have worked tirelessly to ensure that Mr. Taylor was held to account for duping unwitting residents into allowing him to undertake complex improvements to their homes with disastrous and expensive results.

“Our advice is always check out any potential trades person. If a trader claims to belong to a trade association or professional trade body, such as the NICEIC, the advice is to check with these organisations.”

NICEIC’s CEO Emma Clancy said: “We take misuse of our logo very seriously and we welcome this latest prosecution. 

“The NICEIC name is associated with quality and we must protect those contractors who are legitimately registered with us and have the quality of their work assessed on a regular basis.

“We must also send out the message that anyone thinking about misusing our logo will be caught and dealt with appropriately by the courts.”

NICEIC stepped up its fight against firms incorrectly using its logo by setting up a wall of shame. Contractors caught falsely claiming to be members will be named and shamed on the NICEIC website and their details passed to Trading Standards.

Published 30 January 2014

Electrical Industry unite to protect consumers

NAPIT and Certsure, which operates the ELESCA and NICEIC brands, are to take the next step in providing a single point of reference for consumers seeking an electrician. They will create one easily identifiable mark for all full scope Part P registered electricians, easily recognisable by consumers, supported by a single register. 

12 months ago Certsure and NAPIT created separate registers to promote the use of competent, registered electricians to consumers. The intention of both organisations was to help simplify the market and raise public awareness about the dangers of sub-standard electrical repairs and installations. 

Both organisations have seen significant consumer interest; however, they are concerned that the attention given to the registers since their launch has proven a distraction from key issues in the industry such as safety and quality. In order to overcome this NAPIT and Certsure met in the autumn to discuss a new way forward for promoting the use of competent, registered domestic electricians to consumers.  

“By taking this approach, consumers will benefit from a single point of reference, and it will be far easier to find a competent registered electrician in their local area. It is envisaged that the mark will sit alongside all electrical Competent Person Scheme Operators brands, and serve as a easily identifiable mark for consumers giving them confidence in their decision. In turn, responsible contractors will benefit from further promotion in recognition of their commitment to Approved document P and ensuring high standards”, commented Emma Clancy, Chief Executive Officer of Certsure. 

 “Along with Certsure, we have recognised that the presence of two registers was not the best way of improving consumer awareness of competent, registered electricians, which has always been our end goal. The new register will ensure consumers have just one name and one easily recognisable mark to remember, but it will also ensure that electrical installers continue to be able to take advantage of the choice and value for money that comes as part and parcel of healthy competition in the marketplace”, commented Michael Andrews NAPIT Group Chief Executive. 

It is anticipated that the proposal will include all licensed Electrical Competent Person Scheme Operators in England and Wales who are approved by DCLG to run an electrical certification scheme. 

The proposal has been discussed with all full scope electrical Competent Person Scheme Operators, who are in principle happy with the plans. 

The schemes will continue to operate within the current Building Regulations framework and promote their own brands jointly with the new quality mark to raise awareness of competent registered electricians to householders. 

NAPIT and Certsure met with Stephen Williams MP, Minister for Communities who commented: “I am very pleased with the collaborative approach taken by Certsure and NAPIT, which has led to the promise of a simple, easily identifiable mark for use by all registered electricians under the competent persons scheme. I hope the speedy creation of a single mark under one register will make it easier and clearer for households to find a competent, registered electrician from their local area.”  

Published 22 January 2014
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