Currently, the UK has the oldest housing stock in Europe, and most likely the world.
The state and age of these homes differs between nations within the UK and between tenures; Wales has the oldest housing stock in the UK, whilst Northern Ireland has the most modern housing stock. Across the UK, the private rented sector has the highest proportion of homes built before1919 with the owner-occupied sector following close behind. Homes built before1919 have the highest prevalence of electrical problems.
Older properties are more likely to have poor electrical wiring, which may not be able to cope with the increased electricity demand of future homes, which could lead to major events such as electrical fires or outages if not adequately considered and managed.
Steps must be taken to ensure that the condition and age of electrical wiring and capacity constraints are understood through increased reporting, regular safety checks and free support for safety improvements to vulnerable customers.
- Government housing departments in all nations should ensure that housing standard reporting contains references to the state of electrical wiring and seek to understand capacity constraints. This would enhance their understanding of the suitability of building stock for the future and identify where improvements are needed.
- Government housing departments in all nations should introduce a common, cross-tenure housing standard for electrical safety which includes mandatory five-yearly electrical safety checks for all homes in all parts of the UK. These checks could become mandatory on the sale of the property, alongside the current requirement for Energy Performance Certificates.
- Central Government and energy suppliers should consider launching free services, including electrical checks, to support the electrical safety of vulnerable consumers as we transition away from gas.
- Government should ensure that any funding made available for low carbon technologies has a portion reserved for associated remedial and/or ancillary works, such as rewiring or the installation of a new fusebox.
- The Home Office and Devolved Governments should ensure that information relating to property age, tenure and EICR status following an electrical fire is recorded in a consistent and comparable way to enable better tailoring of guidance and policy to reduce future risks.
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