A shock to your savings: 16 million Brits out-of-pocket by an average £750 after fixing dodgy electrical work

03 May 2018

Strict embargo: 00:01 Wednesday 9th May 2018

A frightening number of British consumers are putting cash before competence by seriously considering hiring an unregistered electrician for dangerous electrical work, to save money.

Electrical Safety First carried out a survey, asking people to choose between hiring a registered electrician and an unregistered electrician to fit new wiring or install a new fuse box in their homes. This type of work can lead to catastrophic consequences if done incorrectly, including lethal electric shock or fire. Almost 1 in 3 (30%) admitted they’d choose an unregistered electrician for a cash saving[1].

The Charity asked consumers how significant the saving would have to be for them to choose an unregistered professional. More than a third (36%) said they’d be happy with an average saving of £50[2]. More alarmingly, some people would be prepared to risk the electrical safety of their homes for a saving of £5 or less[3]. These are relatively small savings compared to the price of correcting electrical work, with consumers potentially paying out as much as fifteen times the amount they’d initially hoped to save[4].

Nearly a third of UK adults (31%), the equivalent of 16.4 million people have had to fix poor quality electrical work on at least one or more occasions[5], with an average repair bill of £750[6]. A staggering £2.4 billion has been spent correcting substandard work across the UK, the Charity estimates[7].

Electrical Safety First regularly receives queries from the public about how and where to find an electrician to carry out work in their homes. The safety Charity recommends that all electrical work is carried out by a registered electrician who will have the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to avoid the potentially devastating consequences of electrical work.

Martyn Allen, Technical Director at Electrical Safety First said:

“Electrical is amongst the most dangerous work to undertake in the home, and by hiring someone who isn’t up to the job, the results can be catastrophic. Time and time again we hear of people putting themselves in serious danger because they simply don’t understand how lethal electrical work can be, and also because they don’t know how to find someone suitable for the job. People can easily find a registered electrician in their local area by visiting electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/findanelectrician

Phil Buckle, the Charity’s Chief Executive said:

“Many of us consider the important things in our homes to be the most visible; we value our TVs, games consoles, kitchen worktops and so on, yet some of the most important and vital components that make up a home aren’t immediately visible. The wiring in your home is complex and should only ever be installed by a registered and fully qualified electrician. The consequences of not doing so could very well mean that everything else goes up in smoke.”

Martyn Allen answers the top four queries consumers face when looking to employ an electrician.

Q. What are the dangers of not using a registered electrician?
A. If the risk of losing money on costly repairs isn’t worrying enough, hiring someone who isn’t up to the job could seriously damage your home and put your family at risk of electrical shock or fire. Each year, thousands of house fires are started and hundreds of people are injured or killed as a result of unsafe electrics. Last year In England there were just over 2,000 fires and 364 injuries and deaths[8].

Q. What types of electrical work should you use a registered electrician for?
A. We strongly recommend that you use a registered electrician to do any electrical work in or around your home. Upgrading old wiring, installing new wiring in an extension or adding extra plug sockets are all examples of work that can be extremely hazardous if done incorrectly.

Q. What are the specific benefits of using a registered electrician?
A. By choosing a registered electrician you will be protected by their insurance should something go wrong. It also means they’ve met strict qualification requirements, are regulated by the UK Government, regularly assessed, and legally required to work to certain safety standards.

When the work is finished you will receive an Electrical Installation Certificate to prove the work meets UK standards, and also a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate that confirms the work meets the Building Regulations.

Q. Where can I find a registered electrician?
A. We recommend that you use an electrician registered with a Government- approved scheme. You can find a registered electrician in your local area by visiting electrialsafetyfirst.org.uk/findanelectrician

We strongly advise that you don’t rely on trusted trade websites where some bad tradesman can easily slip through the net. Worryingly, a recent BBC investigation [9] uncovered people advertising their services online without any experience.


For more information please contact:

Sophia Alipour T: 07866 702069 E: sophia.alipour@electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

Joshua Drew T: 07864 009875 E: joshua.drew@electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

Editors’ Notes

  • 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/registeredelectricians.
  • All consumer research, unless otherwise stated, was undertaken from 21 to 23 March 2018 by Censuswide with a sample of 2,000 general consumers.  The figures are representative of all UK adults.


[1] 30.3% said they would choose an unregistered electrician over a registered electrician to carry out electrical work in their home if it meant saving a significant amount of money.

[2]Out of those who said they would choose an unregistered electrician to save money, 35.6% would do so for a saving between £0.50 - £100

[3] 0.5% said they’d choose an unregistered electrician to save £5 or less.

[4] £50 was the average amount people wanted to save by choosing an unregistered electrician and the average repair bill for fixing work was £750.

[5] 30.8% have previously had to repair poor quality work carried out by the electrician they employed on at least one or more occasions, the equivalent to 16.4 million people.

[6] The cost to repair poor quality electrical work ranged from £0-£1,500.

[7] By comparing the number of UK adults who have paid to fix poor quality electrical work (16.4 million) with the average amount spent by each person, we estimate that a total of £2.4 billion has been spent across the UK.

[8] Home Office Fire Statistics on incidents attended by Fire and Rescue Services. Figures from financial year 2016/17.  Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/fire-statistics-data-tables#incident-level-datasets

[9] BBC News. 2018. Rated People and MyBuilder website profiles cause concern. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42783279 [Accessed 1 May 2018]