Inconsistent approach to enforcing safety puts Welsh tenants at risk of electrical hazards
Inconsistencies in the way in which electrical safety complaints and enforcement actions are recorded, and a lack of safety advice available to tenants in the social and private rented-sectors is putting people in Wales at risk of electrical fires and hazards.
Key findings from Electrical Safety First analysis:
- More than half of local authorities reported they undertook enforcement action but often with no record to show publicly.
- Less than half surveyed could provide a figure for the number of complaints received on electrical safety.
- More than two thirds had no data on the number of hazards identified in properties.
- Forty per cent do not provide advice on how to keep homes safe from electrical hazards.
More than half (63%) of local authorities in Wales have undertaken enforcement action on electrical safety issues in the last five years but were often unable to provide accurate data on the type of action carried out, a study by Electrical Safety First has found. This comes as the Welsh Government is deciding whether there is a need in Wales for mandatory electrical safety checks in the social and private rented-sectors.
Eighteen out of the twenty-two local authorities surveyed were unable to provide information on the number of hazards, including electrical, recorded under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), which is used to determine whether a property is safe to live in. Each year, the authorities in Wales receive hundreds of complaints from tenants about electrical safety, but less than half (eight) of local authorities were able to report how many complaints they’d received.
Electrical Safety First believes while there are complaints and enforcement actions on electrical safety, local authorities need to be consistent in how these are recorded and also how safety advice is provided.
Providing tenants with consistent safety advice is essential to protecting them from electrical hazards. The figures reveal that 40% of local authorities do not have any communication with tenants when it comes to using electricity safely in their homes. The majority of authorities that did report providing advice relied on either their local Fire and Rescue Service or external sources such as the Electrical Safety First website. Only four authorities reported that they provide advice on their own websites, including Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Isle of Anglesey and the Vale of Glamorgan.
With more than half of all house fires in Wales caused by electricity, Electrical Safety First is calling for mandatory electrical checks to be introduced urgently in both the social and private rented-sectors as part of the Renting Homes Wales Act.
Robert Jervis-Gibbons, Public Affairs Manager at Electrical Safety First commented:
“The way in which electrical safety issues are recorded in Wales is inconsistent, unreliable and leaves people living in the social and private rented-sectors in an extremely vulnerable position. Tenants must be provided with consistent safety information that informs them of the risks and advises them on how to protect their homes from electrical fires and hazards. Mandatory electrical safety checks are needed in Wales and given the Welsh Government’s positive approach to date towards protecting tenants, better record keeping by local authorities is essential.”
For more information please contact:
Sophia Alipour T: 07866 702069 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Jervis-Gibbons T: 07970 091373 E: email@example.com
Notes for Editors
- Electrical Safety First is a UK charity dedicated to reducing and preventing damage, injuries and death caused by electricity. More information can be found at electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk
- All data unless otherwise stated are from Freedom of Information requests sent to twenty-two local authorities in Wales in August 2017.
 Fourteen out of the twenty-two local authorities reported that they had undertaken enforcement action in the social and private rented-sectors on electrical safety in the last 5 years.
 There were 2,903 electrical hazards (category 1 and 2) identified across Wales in the last 5 years, according to Stats Wales, that’s 581 per year. Accessible at: https://statswales.gov.wales/Catalogue/Housing/Hazards-and-Licences/category1and2hazards-by-hazardtype-dwelling-category
 There were 1,253 complaints about electrical safety by tenants in the private and social rented sectors to local authorities in Wales over the last 5 years and 922 enforcement actions taken on landlords, for what statistics are reported/available.
 Thirteen out of the twenty-two local authorities (59%) reported providing communications to tenants and citizens on electrical safety, including signposting to external sources.