With electricity causing more than half of all fires in Welsh homes - and at a time when increasing media attention highlights the dangers of unsafe electrical products – the Welsh Government is being urged to take action to deal with electrical safety.
The charity, Electrical Safety First, has just launched a manifesto calling for a series of measures to address this issue. With a focus on protecting tenants and older people in Wales, the manifesto argues for regular, five yearly electrical safety checks in both the Private Rented Sector (PRS) and social housing, with care agencies undertaking basic visual checks for older clients.
Welsh Government data indicates that almost a fifth of PRS homes are considered unfit for habitation and over a third of them fail to meet the Decent Homes Standard. With the rapid expansion of the PRS in Wales – if sector growth continues at its current rate, it’s estimated that, by 2020, one in five homes will be rented privately – concerns around electrical safety can only increase. Regular electrical checks are a safety essential and the Charity argues that, if they are to be required in the PRS, it is logical to extend this to all tenants – particularly since there are already parts of Wales where the number of privately rented homes outnumber social housing properties.
“Poorly maintained homes often have badly maintained electrical installations, with issues invisible until an accident occurs” explains Robert Jervis-Gibbons, from Electrical Safety First. “ Given that a third of the Welsh population currently live in rented homes – in both the PRS and social housing - we consider it imperative that all tenants have this protection.”
Another key focus for the Charity’s Manifesto is the protection of older adults. Currently comprising almost 20% of the population, the proportion of older people (65 and over) in Wales is also expanding – and at greater risk from electrical accidents than younger age groups.
“We know that many older people who have lived in their home for decades have never thought about its electrical safety, including their use of worse-for-wear electrical appliances”, adds Robert. “This is particularly important in relation to portable electric heaters, as 40% of deaths from fires caused by them involve individuals aged 80 and over.”
The Charity wants the government to develop a strategy to reduce electrical fires amongst older people, including visits by care or social service agencies to undertake a brief visual electrical safety inspection and all care homes to undergo regular electrical checks. It is also lobbying for improved reporting of electrical fires, so effective strategies to protect the Welsh public can be developed, and policies to combat the rising tide of fake electrical goods entering the country, which can cause serious damage and injury. To view the manifesto in full, click here, or visit: the campaigns section of our website at www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk.
The Welsh Government has committed to introducing electrical safety regulations through its Renting Homes (Wales) Act but Electrical Safety First want to ensure they are brought into effect as soon as possible after the Welsh elections.
- The PRS in Wales has doubled in size since 2001, when there were 90,000 privately rented homes in the country.
- Cardiff has the biggest PRS in Wales, comprising 22% of the capital’s housing stock.
- Cardiff, Ceredigion, Conwy, Denbighshire, Powys and the Vale of Glamorgan have more PRS homes than social housing properties.
For more information, please contact:
Robert Jervis-Gibbons T: 02034 635131
Angela Murphy T: 0203 635127 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Welsh Government Fire Statistics 2014-2015
 Pattison B et al (2010) Tenure Trends in the UK Housing System - British Social Housing Foundation.