I’m Mike Andrews, CEO of NAPIT, and welcome to the latest in a series of blogs where our experts discuss the industry’s big issues. In this blog, Frank Bertie explains why positive change is vital for the industry and why it’s important to make sure that your voice is heard.
Everyone likes a good moan now and then – it’s quick, cheap, easy to do and often makes us feel better. However, it’s only a short-term fix, and it doesn’t usually take long to realise that all the moaning in the world achieves nothing. On the other hand, I believe that voicing opinions, raising concerns, suggesting ideas and giving feedback in an appropriate arena, with a view to generating debate, is where moaning stops and positive action starts.
Sometimes the wheels of change within the building services sector can turn painfully slowly, so it’s understandable why many people feel that a lone voice in a massive industry can soon be lost. It’s why the NAPIT Trade Association exists – it enables members of any of our schemes, whether that be electrical, heating, plumbing, ventilation, microgeneration or energy efficiency measures, to join together to advance specific interests, drive change and have a voice. All it requires from you is your participation and a desire to get involved. We work for you and identify our core campaigning objectives on the basis of feedback received during regional meetings, which are held up to three times a year in 11 locations across England and Wales, and from regular surveys. You can also raise issues at any time by simply sending us an email.
I’m sure that the more cynical readers amongst you are thinking that while this all sounds very noble, does it actually make a difference? The simple answer is yes and it’s not just about pointing out problems, but also offering solutions.
We’ve already helped to ensure that there is a single register for all full scope electricians registered with a DCLG authorised Competent Person Scheme Operator in England and Wales, something that has created significant awareness of using competent registered contractors. This is in addition to working with the Energy Networks Association and other industry stakeholders to create a new reporting mechanism for problems associated with a distribution business’s service equipment. This was designed to improve electrical safety in the home and make it easier for installers to contact the correct people and resolve any safety issues speedily.
At the moment, we are all campaigning hard on a number of additional issues that will make a real difference to our members. These include lobbying for greater enforcement of Part P of the Building Regulations to discourage breaking the law, and we also want landlords to be legally obliged to undertake regular electrical safety checks in their properties. To help encourage this, we have worked with industry to create a number of Home Safety Guidance documents to make it easier for landlords to keep track on their obligations, and the steps they have taken to verify the safety of their property. In addition, we are working hard to address the flagging fortunes of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the energy efficiency industry, both of which have suffered from a lack of support and promotion. We want the government to do more by committing to long-term targets and introducing incentives such as interest-free loans to stimulate uptake.
We’ve also had tremendous support for our campaign to make it possible for registered electrical contractors to remove the service cut-out fuse when installing or modifying a consumer unit. Having to contact the energy supplier to remove it is time-consuming, costly and unnecessary, and a clear case of red tape getting in the way of common sense. We know this is a huge problem for most of our members and from a survey we carried out found that 20 per cent of respondents had come across this issue over 30 times in the last year.
The NAPIT Trade Association also looks to represent your views at the very highest levels, such as in important industry committees and key government departments. We aim to affect government consultations and in recent times we have responded to the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) HSG141: Electrical Safety on Construction Sites document, as well as the Department of Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) Private Rented Sector Energy Efficiency Regulations study.
I hope that this gives you an indication of the important work we are doing and I’d like to leave you with this final thought. The chances are that if an issue affects you, it will also concern your fellow industry colleagues. I would therefore urge you to get involved, make your voice heard and join NAPIT in its efforts to make the industry a better place for all.