Legislation on electrical regulation the only way to bring ‘comfort and security’ to customers

Alan Wilson

TRADE body SELECT has urged Scotland’s electricians to take part in a second consultation on regulation of the electrical industry.

The organisation said only government legislation can bring about ‘comfort and security’ to customers and is calling on members and the wider industry to make their views known in the latest appeal for feedback, which has been launched by business minister Jamie Hepburn MSP.

A first consultation by Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston closed last November with more than 140 submissions – more than 90% of which were positive.

Alan Wilson, MD of SELECT, said, “This is another great opportunity for the industry to take part in and shape the future and is a further chance for Scotland to demonstrate that we are committed to comfort and security for customers. We would urge all interested parties to make their submission to this latest consultation before it closes on February 12. They can also submit a letter in support of our own letter, which we will be submitting shortly.”

Mr Wilson said effective change must be underpinned by legislation, adding that voluntary regimes have never addressed the issue of dangerous and poor work undertaken by unqualified or partially qualified persons.

In SELECT’s letter to the consultation, he said: “The construction industry is littered with schemes which are operated on a ‘voluntary’ basis and whilst we would all like to imagine that such an approach would achieve change, there is no evidence to show that this form of approach ever works. Any real and effective change must be underpinned by legislation. Maintaining the status quo is not an option.

“The Scottish Government needs to introduce a package of measures which must include Protection of Title. Establishing a single register based on the existing Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB) model would provide the comfort and security to a customer that someone calling themselves an electrician was qualified and competent.”

Following the first consultation, Mr Halcro Johnston is now preparing to present a proposed Holyrood Member’s Bill outlining the case for regulation.

Mr Wilson added, “There is a strong economic case for legislation. Scotland is investing £1.6 billion over the next five year in decarbonising heat in buildings and it makes sense that those undertaking that programme are trained, qualified and competent. But there is also a social side. Protecting title and making the role of electrician a profession will lead to greater interest in the industry and more opportunities for women and ethnic minorities to join it, which would be a significant advantage to us all.

“Finally, there is overwhelming evidence that the public already thinks that the profession is regulated when of course it is not. People are genuinely surprised when told that you need no formal qualifications to call yourself an electrician. All survey evidence points to this and to a strong demand from the public that electricians should be qualified in the interests of consumer safety.”

The second consultation can be completed here and closes on February 12 2021.