The Electrical Safety Council is calling for manufacturers to face tougher penalties if they undertake inadequate or slow recalls, following growing concerns over the effectiveness of the recall system and the emergence of a number of serious incidents involving recalled products.
Manufacturers who delay or take action in a recall situation currently face fines of only £5,000.
The ESC would like to see tougher penalties based on a percentage of profits from the recalled product, with a minimum level set at £5,000. This should ensure manufacturers react quickly and effectively should a recall situation arise.
The ESC is also inviting Trading Standards to set out clear and unambiguous guidelines on exactly what a manufacturer should do if they have produced a product that is subject to a recall. The ESC’s research shows that typically only 10-20% of recalled electrical products are ever returned, exposing millions of people in the UK to the risk of fire or electrocution. Over the last six years there have been 266 recall notices for electrical items.
In addition to the proposed change to fines, the Electrical Safety Council has today outlined proposals for a new centralised product registration system, coordinated by the charity, which could help manufacturers trace their products to the consumer in a recall situation.
At the moment only 5-10% of people fill in registration cards for new items because they are concerned about their information being used for marketing purposes and because they don’t understand the purpose of the cards. Yet over half of all the people that took part in the Electrical Safety Council’s research said they would be more likely to register products with an independent organisation, if their details were used only in the event of a recall and if they were assured their details wouldn’t be used for marketing purposes.
Do you fill in and send off the produce registration card? Or do you, like many people just throw it away? It’s there for a reason – keeping you and your families safe. Next time you purchase a new product do everyone a favour – FILL IN THE CARD AND SEND IT OFF!
- Mark Jenkins
Full story: Trust in tradesmen still a consumer concern
A recent study from Bradstone Assured has shown that concerns about rogue tradesmen still rank as one of the highest consumer concerns when it comes to the construction industry. The poll, taken by 2000 homeowners, found that nearly three quarters of the sample "felt anxious" when dealing with tradesmen they hadn't met before and a total of 60% thought it was difficult to find an honest tradesman.
Among the main consumer concerns were whether the job would be finished in time, being charged more than the original quote and fearing that the builder would go out of business before the work was completed. HOWEVER it also emerged that many customers were not taking the available steps to ensure that they were hiring a genuine tradesman and not one of the "cowboy builders" you so often hear about in the news. Less than a third of people check for professional credentials, only one in four take up references and 70% don’t even know the surname of the person they have employed.
Bradstone Assured spokesman Mike Leeming said: “Our research suggests that falling foul of rogue traders is still a real concern for homeowners. One in 10 even admitted to attempting work they weren’t capable of rather than risk bringing someone in."
So what measures can be taken to ensure a trustworthy tradesman? Professional branding, a good website and offering references up-front were among the things found in the poll to most likely reassure customers. It is important to know some of the professional branding to look for, as it can come from many different places and is all different depending on the tradesman you need. Electricians who have their Part P qualification will be able to join a Competent Person Scheme such as NICEIC, NAPIT or ELECSA - they will usually have these stickers on their van/website and it shouldn't be too hard to look up with these bodies if you were really unsure. Plumbers also have their own Competent Person Schemes, and gas engineers are required to become Gas Safe registered in order to work on gas appliances legally. If you're unsure your engineer is registered - be sure to find out. Only last week a plumber narrowly escaped a jail sentence after carrying out illegal gas work - resulting in an explosion at a home and the owners suffering serious burns.
There is also TrustMark, a sign of quality working across the RMI (repair, maintenance and improvement) sector which recruits reputable and worthy tradesmen. The TrustMark scheme offers a number of checks to give you full peace of mind, and is fully supported by the Government, building industry and various consumer protection groups.
Of course, tradesmen are also required to do their part - from getting the right, reputable qualifications to doing the work to a professional standard. For tradesmen-in-training, all of the courses Access Training offer the qualifications you need to reach the "industry standard" employers look for. You will gain the skills and knowledge you need to be a part of the schemes mentioned earlier, securing you a long and prosperous career in the industry. If you would like to find out more give us a call today.
Following the ECA's warning that the Green Deal was at risk of "sleepwalking into obscurity", two new websites have been launched in an attempt to provide more information to homeowners and businesses alike on the Government's energy saving scheme.
Green Deal Directory is a database of both assessors and installers across the country, which users can search within a designated radius of their postcode or town. Meanwhile Green Deal Certified is offering a fast track approach to accreditation, providing would-be installers/assessors with a faster way of completing the necessary paperwork for official approval. By speeding up the process to offer energy saving services, this should give smaller businesses a much needed boost while also allowing more people access to these services.
Thomas Farquhar, sales manager of Green Deal Certified, said: "It was clear that the average potential supplier of Green Deal services simply found the accreditation process far too time consuming. They are busy people. Therefore, our service takes away the hassle and time problems and in effect allows these companies to take an 'express' path to accreditation."
While effort is finally being made to push the Green Deal into the public eye, are these measures coming too late? Yesterday Enact Energy Renewables, one of the first Green Deal providers, announced that it is in administration. Christopher Norman of Begbies Traynor business restructuring and insolvency advisors, who have been appointed as administrator, said: "The company has retained some of its employees to assist the administrators in conducting an orderly winding down of the company’s affairs. “We will now attempt to source a purchaser for some or all of the company’s business undertaking and assets."
Enact had recently signed a deal with the Residential Landlords Association to provide Green Deal upgrade work, with the target of doing 10,000 properties over the next five years valuing the contract at £100 million.
Publicity has always been an issue when it comes to the Green Deal - how can people be expected to take advantage of it when they aren't fully aware it even exists? The Green Deal Directory "About Us" page states that "The MCS & Green Deal Directory is advertised extensively on Google, Yahoo, MSN and through green publications & blogs. The MCS Accredited Installer Directory is also advertised in leading printed publications such as Grand Designs Magazine, Real Homes, Self Build & Design Magazine and Home Building & Renovating Magazine, and at world class exhibitions such as Ecobuild." However surely the people reading these are the ones already aware of the Green Deal?
The project is off to a good start, with official figures from the DECC showing the take up reached record numbers in March with almost 8,000 assessments completed and £68.9 million worth of contracts let through the eco brokerage scheme, but there's still a long way to go to meet the Governments proposed targets. Will these new websites make that much of a difference? Only time will tell.
Full story: HVP Magazine - Plumbers feeling positive for 2013
Plumbers across the UK are expecting to see an improvement in business throughout this year, as discovered by a recent event organised by software/service provider Sage. An overwhelming 90% of attendees are expecting their business to grow by up to 15% by the end of 2013, with many revealing that in the past managing their finances and administration tasks have been their biggest difficulty.
The main focus of the event, which was held in Croydon, was to determine whether local businesses understood the recent changes to PAYE (Pay-As-You-Earn tax) reporting with the introduction of RTI (Real Time Information) reporting requirements. Overall knowledge of these changes seemed divided, with only about half being aware of the changes and what they meant. However a third of respondents planned to increase their staffing in the near future with an apprentice or full-time employee. Those intending to expand were uncertain about what the changes mean for them, whilst those that don’t cited extra red tape as the main reason for remaining a sole operator.
Neilson Watts from Sage UK said: "I’m not surprised that the research highlighted so many people struggle with their finances. No one starts a business or becomes a plumber because they love the admin side of things – it’s because they have a skill and a genuine passion for their trade, but if you don’t get it right it can come back to bite you."
So will 2013 be the year you strike it big as a plumber? If you're looking to change careers and move into the world of plumbing, it's important to be fully prepared. Access Training offer a fully comprehensive plumbing course, giving you all the industry standard qualifications employers look for. But as well as improving your prospects for employed work it'll also give you good grounding to set up your own self-employed plumbing business. Even when you've completed the course, Access Training will be on hand to help you as you set up the business and our tutors available to give advice whenever you may need it.
Make 2013 your year. Call 0800 345 7492 today.
The Green Deal is in danger of “sleepwalking into obscurity”, warns the ECA.
In response to the Energy and Climate Change Committee’s report into the Green Deal, the ECA has said that the findings should be a stark warning for the Government.
The ECA said, “The Energy and Climate Change Committee’s report into the Green Deal issued on 22nd May is a wake-up call to Government, which must keep on top of Green Deal performance if it is to prevent its flagship policy from sleepwalking into obscurity.”
Now the Green Deal is live, the Government must be quick to react to what is happening on the ground, and make changes if success is in doubt. Considering the PV FITs fiasco was worsened by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) relying on outdated figures on solar installations, the DECC should be accessing real-time information on the Green Deal, right now.
Millions of homes and businesses could benefit from the Green Deal, but at the current rate of assessments it will take around 100 years to get round to them. The first figures on actual Green Deal installation work, which come out in June, will be crucial.
Depending on what these figures say, the DECC may need to be ready with a Plan B. That should include reducing interest rates, which are widely seen as uncompetitive. Even simple measures like making the early adopter loans more obvious to consumers could help.
Awareness of the Green Deal financial incentives is very sketchy; publicity of what people need to do to benefit from the scheme is non-existent. How can the ‘common man’ (or woman) take advantage of the scheme when they are not being provided with any information?
The government call this a "Flagship incentive" - I would call it propaganda.
- Mark Jenkins