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Part P fit for purpose?

02 February 2012

The Government has just launched its public consultation on Part P of the Building Regulations for England, which covers electrical safety in dwellings.

“We welcome the indication that the Government is inclined to amend Part P, rather than remove it”, explains Phil Buckle, Director General of the Electrical Safety Council (ESC). “However, we still have concerns regarding the extent and impact of proposed changes and we urge people to take part in this consultation”.

The public consultation offers three options for Part P: leaving it unchanged; revoking it; or revising it to reduce the costs and burdens it imposes. Proposed amendments include reducing the amount of smaller-scale work that is notifiable and allowing unregistered installers to employ competent third-party electricians to inspect and test their work.

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 and Wales which 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.

Phil says: “As a charity, our core concern is consumer safety. But we understand that there needs to be a balance - between the public’s need to be confident in the standard of electrical work being carried out in their homes and the industry’s desire to avoid unnecessary red tape - and to ensure this, we have worked with a range of stakeholders, from consumer bodies to industry groups. Our bottom line is that we need to reduce the complexities of Part P without compromising safety”.

It has also been suggested that Part P scheme operators contribute to its promotion, to both the trade and consumers. “This is another area where we believe the ESC can support both the industry and the general public,” adds Phil Buckle. “Our extensive expertise in campaigning could help ensure an integrated approach to the promotion of Part P and in a way that ensures everyone – whether they work in the industry or not – understands what it is and why we need it”.

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