INEQUALITY STREET - Which Scottish homes are more at risk?

19 May 2017

Did you know you could be safer living in Scotland’s Private Rented Sector (PRS) than in social housing – or even in your own home?

Electricity is the number one cause of accidental fires in Scottish homes but the law provides varying levels of protection for those living in different housing tenures. So, leading safety charity, Electrical Safety First, is calling on the Scottish Government to ensure that everyone – no matter where they live – are protected from electrical accidents

Over the last couple of years, the Scottish Government has led the way in protecting private tenants by requiring regular electrical checks, by a registered electrician, in all PRS homes.  But the legislation doesn’t cover those in social housing, or those living in their own homes – despite the fact that they comprise more than 80% of the total housing mix. To help address this, Electrical Safety First has just launched a major campaign called Inequality Street.

“There is a clear inconsistency between electrical safety standards in private and social housing – and even more so in relation to owner-occupied homes”, explains Phil Buckle, Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First.  “While owner occupiers can choose to determine acceptable risk levels in their home, this can be an issue when they live in tenements and flats, where fire can easily spread and impact on other residents. We want a common electrical safety standard for all housing in Scotland. At the moment, we really do have ‘inequality streets’, where one resident might be much better protected from electrical risk than their neighbour next door.”

To help address this, Electrical Safety First is calling for five yearly electrical safety checks to be extended to all social housing and mandatory checks in owner-occupied properties – or, as a first step, in owner-occupied flats. The charity is also lobbying for RCDs, which rapidly cut the current to prevent a fatal electric shock, to be fitted in all rented homes.

Editor’s Notes

  • The Scottish government is undertaking a number of consultations on housing policy. The current consultation is open until June of this year and can be found at:

While it focuses on energy efficiency and conditions in the PRS, it includes a question on whether RCDs should be mandatory

  • Additional consultations will be opened this winter, which will seek views on electrical safety standards in the owner-occupied and social rented sector.