The role of someone working in electrical safety/compliance management in Social Housing is not an easy one. They are responsible for services they know little about, enough to do the job but only really to make sure the service keeps operating.
There are many things the industry could do to help these people do their jobs better, the first would be to understand the barriers and limitations so that any decision made does not create an internal battle around justification of budgets and compliance.
Let me explain:
When the industry and Competent Person Schemes meet with the DCLG to discuss mandatory Electrical Safety Checks every 5 years, zero consideration is given with regards the impact on Social Housing. Most of the industry was working to a 10-year frequency and it was noted that there was an issue with Private Landlords, which we all agreed, yet the change the industry has pushed has meant Social Housing providers have had to find 100% extra budget to move to the 5 years as they feel this change is applicable to them because of the way it has been portrayed.
So where is the problem? Let’s look at something in details, although this example is slightly “flippant”, but true:
A Housing Association with 20,000 properties has to plan a lifecycle for rewiring properties. The average cost to the organisation is £3500 per rewire. This means to totally rewire all properties the organisation would need £70million.
The decent home standard stated a frequency of 25 years between each rewire. This means the above Housing Association would require £2.8million each year, forever, to constantly keep the asset ‘current’.
Most of the organisations I have spoken to dedicate under £1million which means the 25 years is extended to around 70 years between each rewire. (1,000,000 / 3500 = 286 properties. 20,000 properties / 286 = 70 years)
Most electrical managers will be giggling at this point because they’ve tried and tried to explain this!!!
The above organisation has 20,000 assets on a 10-year frequency of testing. At £100 a test ( I know that’s cheap) that’s £200k per year forever. Now we move to 5 years because the industry wants to help improve Private rented properties and it inadvertently impacts Social Housing. We now need £400K each year to address this. The money has to come from somewhere so we take it off the rewire budget.
We now have £800K to rewire our assets – for those of you following the maths, that’s 87 years between each rewire!!!!
Now I bet no one has considered that. The reason no one has considered that is because our industry has never had a voice. This is just one example of the things we really should have a say in.
Every electrical manager in the country can see the bottleneck filling up, their voice seems very small when trying to speak up about this. The Association of Electrical Safety Managers has been created to make that voice sound a little louder.
Some of our objectives;
· Provide a technical competent voice to the industry to ensure decisions are made considering your organisation’s policies and process.
· Raise standards through education, the sharing of best practice and standard setting.
· Assist each other to help manage ongoing challenges with safety, compliance and budget management.
· Raise the profile of electrical safety in social housing, government and industry bodies.
· Recognition and rewards for those stepping outside the box to help our industry.
· Empower members.
If you work in Social Housing and want to be part of this next chapter in our industry, please get in touch with me or the office. You can find the details on the website.
Membership is open for those responsible for electrical safety in Social Housing. Please visit our website for more information.
All the very best