Our Key Policies in Scotland

Electrical Safety First works closely with the Scottish Government and Members of the Scottish Parliament, as well as other policy-forming committees, to ensure that people are kept safe in their homes from accidents, injuries and fires caused by electricity.  We also deliver key statistics, respond to consultations, and produce policy and research reports.

Our focus in Scotland includes:

  • Reducing the number of house fires caused by electricity to protect the most vulnerable, and targeting emerging risks such as safe charging of electric vehicles.
  • Securing equal electrical safety protections for everyone, regardless of tenure.
  • Improving consumer safeguards around defective or faulty electrical products and electrical counterfeits, including those which are sold online.
  • Securing action from the Scottish Government to improve awareness of product recalls amongst consumers in Scotland.
  • Ensuring that any new regulation of electricians benefits the consumer, first and foremost.

Safe Housing

Almost three quarters of house fires are of electrical origin – the number one cause in Scotland.[1] But the law offers different protection for different tenures. We believe everybody should be protected by the same electrical safety standards, regardless of tenure.

As a result of our ‘Inequality Street’ campaign, we have achieved electrical safety protections in both the private and social rented sectors in Scotland.  However, more needs to be done to reduce electrical risks, particularly in the owner-occupied sector, which would help to protect the most vulnerable. 

We want to see:

  • A move towards mandatory electrical safety checks for all homes.
  • The more immediate introduction of a common electrical safety standard for all rented sectors – bringing social housing in line with the PRS.
  • This would require the mandatory fitting of RCDs for social housing.
  • Owner of flats should be required to complete mandatory electrical safety checks.
  • A requirement for landlords to register any new electrical appliances they provide with lets and to ensure they are not subject to any product recalls or safety alerts.
  • New in-depth research to understand any specific electrical risks in blocks of flats and tenements.
  • Short-term lets being legally required to meet the electrical safety requirements of the Repairing Standard.

Preventing fires caused by electricity and protecting the most vulnerable 

In 2019, 74% of house fires were caused by electricity in Scotland.[1] Older or vulnerable people can be most at risk of fire because they often live in old or poor quality housing which contains faulty electrics, own older appliances or are unable to afford essential electrical repairs.  According to official statistics, the risk of dying in a fire for older people is over twice as high as the average for all ages.  Set against a backdrop of an ageing population, with dementia and other degenerative syndromes heightening electrical risk, those in later life may find themselves asset rich but cash poor with limited electrical safety grant funding available to mitigate dangers in the oldest housing stock.

We want to see: 

  • A commitment to reduce the number of accidental electrical house fires with targeted consumer campaigns supported by the Scottish Government.
  • A more up-to-date reporting system that allows for better capturing of incidents caused by modern technology.
  • Support for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services to extend their preventative work to raise awareness and prevent house fires caused by electricity.
  • A review of the causes of fires by electrical sources and the cost to public services.
  • The option of a free five-yearly electrical safety check for all owner-occupied households with one person of pensionable age.

Protecting consumers from Unsafe Products

With a response rate to electrical product recalls of just 10-20%, there is clearly a lack of awareness around the risks associated with recalled products.  Online platforms have become the place to advertise and trade in unsafe electrical products.  Our research has indicated a particular issue with the sale of counterfeits and sub-standard electrical items online, with one in five Scottish residents (one million people) having purchased a fake electrical product that was advertised as genuine.

We want to see: 

  • Product safety policies developed and delivered at a devolved level to protect people from defective or faulty electrical products.
  • Improved consumer campaigns in Scotland to raise awareness of potential risks associated with electrical goods being purchased online.
  • Additional resources given to Trading Standards in Scotland to enforce action against sales of unsafe electrical goods.
  • Support from the Scottish Government and elected representatives in Scotland for our policy proposals on areas which remain the responsibility of the UK Parliament alone:
    • Government collect, review and publish product recall information, so that consumers have a one-place trusted authority to consult.
    • mandatory registration of electrical goods at point of sale.
    • legislation to prevent the sales of unsafe, sub-standard and counterfeit electrical goods.

Registered Electricians

We strongly recommend that, wherever you live, you use an electrician registered with one of the government-approved schemes for any electrical installation work in your home. Sub-standard electrical work and failings in workmanship can and do result in death, injury and loss of property through fire.

We want to see: 

  • Regulation of electricians which works for the consumers, first and foremost.
  • A single register to make it easier for consumers to identify qualified and competent electrical professionals.
  • An on-going government-backed education campaign to help change consumer attitudes towards the importance of electrical safety in the home and using registered electricians.

Future Challenges

The importance of electrical safety can only increase during the drive for the electrification of energy. New technologies - and new products - are making the smart home mainstream and the evolution of electric vehicles, highlight how it is central to our lives. This requires a joined-up approach across policy areas to tackle the safety risks from these challenges.

We want to see:

  • Housing policy must be considered alongside developments with building standards to consider the impact of new technologies in the home, including an increased need for domestic charging points for EVs, and any potential issues with installing these for flat dwellers and areas of high-density housing.
  • Decisions on future housing policy must consider electrical safety issues which arise as a result of steps to decarbonise our homes.

[1] Electrical Safety First methodology of data provided by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in February 2020. 

[2] Electrical Safety First methodology of fire data provided by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. 

Our Campaigns in Scotland

Inequality Street

Campaigning for electrical safety equality, regardless of tenure, in Scottish homes.

Find Out More