‘As Winter approaches there’s positive news following Brexit vote, some big projects are given the go-ahead and a campaign to protect elderly people in their homes’
- Go-ahead to turn iconic Waterloo terminal into shopping mall
- ECA poll finds increasing number of businesses see turnover rise following Brexit vote
- Plumbers’ merchants market forecast to increase by 4% in 2016
- NICEIC and ELECSA launch campaign to protect elderly people from faulty electrical equipment
- Free boiler guide for your customers
- 2.7 million renters at risk from dangerous gas appliances, says Gas Safe Register
- Workers call for site shutdowns in freezing weather
- Schneider Electric expands and enhances Partner Programme
- More funding available to boost apprenticeships
- SELECT wants to make “Electrician” a registered profession
Go-ahead to turn iconic Waterloo terminal into shopping mall
Plans to revitalise the iconic Eurostar terminal at Waterloo in London with a three level shopping complex have got the green light.
London & Continental Railways and Network Rail are planning to build over 130,000 sq ft of retail space in levels below the former Waterloo international terminal station platforms.
The scheme is aimed to bring the station’s shopping offer up to the standard set by Birmingham New Street and St Pancras International.
Plans also include dramatically improving the public realm fronting Cab Road and improved linkages to Leake Street and Lower Marsh, acting as a retail draw for the redevelopment of the nearby Shell Centre.
The two-year reconstruction plan is expected to cost around £60m, excluding shop fit-out.
The major retail plan forms part of the £800m remodelling of Waterloo, which includes bringing five former Eurostar platforms into use for regular commuter services by Network Rail.
Skanska is carrying out the major infrastructure works including lengthening existing local service platforms and reopening the former Eurostar platforms.
ECA poll finds increasing number of businesses see turnover rise following Brexit vote
Over eight in 10 (80.1 per cent) electrical and building services engineering firms say turnover increased or stayed the same during the third quarter of 2016, according to new survey findings from the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA).
The findings cover the three months from July – September, the period almost immediately following the landmark vote this summer for the UK to leave the European Union. The responses indicate that, overall, there was only a modest pre-and post referendum impact on the sector.
Businesses of almost all sizes had a favourable third quarter, with small contracting firms, medium-sized enterprises and large organisations all reporting an improvement on the previous three month period. However, micro businesses with turnover below £200,000 had a slight downturn in Q3.
Looking ahead to the final quarter of 2016, the outlook is also positive overall, although business expectations are down, with 31 per cent of firms expecting a rise in turnover in Q4 (a fall of 11 per cent from expectations in our previous survey for Q3 this year).
ECA CEO Steve Bratt commented: “This ECA survey shows that electrical and building services firms remain broadly confident about their economic prospects, but we should remember that our sector feels any positive or negative effects later than many others in the supply chain.
“In addition, the survey shows that the expectation for business is down for the final quarter of the year, and members are already reporting increasing prices of key materials and equipment. This means that 2017 may present even more challenges to profit margins.”
The Building Engineering Business Survey, which is held in association with Scolmore, was sent out to ECA members in early October this year. The response rate was the highest in five years.
Plumbers’ merchants market forecast to increase by 4% in 2016
The plumbers’ merchant market was worth an estimated £4 billion in 2015, having recovered strongly in recent years. Demand has increased since 2013, leading to greater demand for plumbing materials, bathroom and shower products, and the plumbers’ merchants market is forecast to grow by around 4% in 2016, according to a report by AMA Research.
Increasing demand has been attributed to the improving economic climate in general since 2013, with demand increasing for both new work and RMI activity.
Price competition remains fierce and AMA Research believes this may influence margins going forward. In order to differentiate themselves, some plumbers’ merchants have invested in improving the overall customer experience through enhanced service, such as extended opening times, greater availability of stock and heightened promotional activity. Many have also expanded their online presence, to ensure that they compete with rising internet sales.
Consolidation has been a feature of the marketplace in recent years, as nationals have acquired smaller regional operations in order to extend their reach and range of services. However, many regional and independent merchants have performed well, with some expanding their number of branches to improve their product offering and stock levels to meet local needs.
It is extremely difficult to forecast the impact of the outcome of the EU Referendum on the economy going forward. Several economic forecasts suggest that the UK economy will start to slow, with business and consumer confidence affected, potentially with lower GDP growth in 2017 and 2018. The situation may improve after this, depending on the outcome of trade negotiations, both within and outside the EU, which have yet to take place.
Both Travis Perkins and Wolseley, two of the leading merchant groups in the country, have streamlined the plumbers’ merchant sides of the respective businesses as a result of uncertainty in the market.
“While there are indications of a slowdown in growth in the housing and commercial sectors from mid to late-2016, the plumbers’ merchants market is still forecast to increase by around 4% compared with 2015, with a further 2 to 3% per annum expected from 2017 onwards” said Keith Taylor, director of AMA Research.
NICEIC and ELECSA launch campaign to protect elderly people from faulty electrical equipment
A new, consumer-facing, campaign from NICEIC and ELECSA is urging householders to think electrics when they carry out their checks on the elderly this winter.
Proportionately, older people suffer more fatal and non-fatal injuries from electrically-related house fires than the rest of the population.
People over 65 are particularly at risk because they often live in old or poor-quality housing that contains faulty electrics or old appliances.
Yet research by NICEIC and ELECSA has revealed that although many people will be looking in on an elderly relative or neighbour this winter, the one thing that could be getting overlooked is a quick check on the state of the electrics.
“Some of the results we found were quite startling,” commented NICEIC and ELECSA’s Technical Development Manager Darren Staniforth.
“While up to 50% of people will be making regular calls on a relative or neighbour this winter, less than 20% of those would think to take a quick check of the electrics to make sure everything is ok.
“With people over 65 statistically more likely to be involved in a fire caused by faulty electrics, this is obviously concerning.
“During the colder months, the elderly are more likely to be plugging in electrical appliances such as heaters or electric blankets, many of which could be old and potentially dangerous.
“They could also be plugging these appliances into an electric supply around the home that might not have been checked in decades or perhaps never at all.
“We want to encourage those looking out for an older relative or neighbour to have a quick check of the home and make sure there is nothing there that could potentially lead to something awful occurring.”
Research carried out by NICEIC and ELECSA revealed that:
- 50% of us hold the opinion that the elderly are more at risk from the electrical dangers in our homes.
- 75% have never helped their relative to have their home safety checked by an electrician.
- 80% have never been concerned by the safety of the electrical appliances in their elderly family member’s home.
As Darren added: “Our research shows that the Great British public does a great deal of work looking out for the elderly in the winter time.
“The lack of concern over electrical safety is not one about not caring, but generally a lack of knowledge about what to look out for.”
NICEIC and ELECSA have produced a checklist, of what to look out for to reduce the risk of an electrical fault. This quick visual check includes:
- Ensuring that plug sockets are not damaged or scorched. Any scorch marks around a socket are an indication that something is not right and that you should call a registered electrician to investigate further.
- Checking that any leads or cables are not damaged or frayed
- Checking that lights are working correctly and there is no signs of visible damage
- Checking that sockets are not overloaded or that too many extension leads are in use.
- Check that the main fusebox (consumer unit) has RCD protection fitted. An RCD (Residual Current Device) will trip should it detect an overload in the circuit.
“By carrying out these simple checks people will be able to reduce the risk of fire or spot something that could potentially lead to a problem in the future,” added Darren.
“If they see something that doesn’t seem to be working properly or may need further investigation we always suggest they call their local registered electrician.
“A registered electrician will be able to rectify any faults or carry out an Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR) which will identify any potential issues that could lead to further problems.”
Faulty electrics in the home account for 20,000 house fires each year, causing upwards of 70 fatalities.
Most electrical issues in the home are easily preventable by ensuring a home is regularly checked by a suitable, registered electrician.
Free boiler guide for your customers
The AA has produced a straightforward boiler guide to help householders better understand their boiler, hot water and central heating system. Covering everything from boiler types and controls to how to effectively use the system, the guide is designed to help householders save energy by using their system properly and encourage them to get it regularly checked and serviced.
The guide explains how combi, sealed systems and open vent systems work using simple diagrams. Other advice addresses boiler controls, temperature timings, room thermostats and the pilot light. There is also a section on how to achieve cost-effective heating.
To access the Big Boiler Handbook, click here.
2.7 million renters at risk from dangerous gas appliances, says Gas Safe Register
Unsafe gas appliances have been found in a fifth of privately rented accommodation, leading Gas Safe Register to believe that more than 2.7 million people could be living in dangerous housing.
Investigation data by Gas Safe Register spanning five years revealed that gas heaters are the most dangerous appliances in rented accommodation, accounting for 59% of all unsafe appliances.
According to the data, a fifth of renters are unaware their boiler should be safety checked annually, and 11% don’t think their boiler has been inspected this year.
Despite landlords being responsible for ensuring that all gas appliances provided by them are safety checked every year by a qualified Gas Safe-registered engineer, more than a third are unaware of their duty of care. In fact, one in seven landlords reportedly think gas appliance safety is the responsibility of their local council.
Jonathan Samuel, managing director at Gas Safe Register, said: “Gas safety can be a matter of life or death. The findings from the 122,000 inspections carried out by our team over the last five years show us that more unsafe appliances have been found in rented accommodation than in privately owned homes.
“However, any unsafe appliance can have devastating consequences, regardless of the type of property. We are urging renters, homeowners and landlords alike to make sure they know to get gas appliances checked on an annual basis and, as a legal requirement, to ‘trust the triangle’ by using a Gas Safe registered engineer.”
Workers call for site shutdowns in freezing weather
Chiefs at UCATT have written to the major house builders demanding the introduction of extreme weather health and safety guidelines for construction workers.
The National House Building Council publishes minimum temperature guidance to protesct materials on site.
Now UCATT wants to see similar recommendations to protect workers.
It said: ” The NHBC makes it clear mortar should not be used below 2 degrees C, whilst construction workers should put their gloves on, get out there and suffer.”
The union also hit out at an “institutionalised” macho culture which prevents workers from complaining about the cold.
UCATT Acting General Secretary, Brian Rye, said: “It’s a complete indictment of an industry that has temperature guidelines to safeguard materials but none whatsoever for the workers. This must now change.
“We have written to the NHBC to ask them to inject some humanity into the industry and provide clear temperature and extreme weather guidelines for constructors to apply to workers.
“In an age when we no longer send young children up chimneys to clean them, we should equally not be forcing construction workers to work in inhuman conditions.
“If it’s too cold for mortar – it’s too cold for mortals!”
There is no current legal minimum or maximum temperature for working outside.
Unions are currently negotiating to have rules or guidance on working in extreme weather included in the Construction Industry Joint Council agreement.
Schneider Electric expands and enhances Partner Programme
Schneider Electric is to continue its commitment to electricians with the expansion of its enhanced and newly titled Electrician Partner Programme.
Formerly known as Ultimate Installer, the scheme is dedicated to supporting electricians and is free for professionals working in the residential and light commercial sectors and who can demonstrate one of the entry criteria.
Partners is designed to solve challenges such as striking a balance between time on the tools versus administration in the office, to maintaining skills and knowledge for emerging technology trends as well as the evolving marketing needs of starting a new business through to maintaining an established one.
Benefits for Partners include: a welcome pack with complimentary branded work wear; a business listing on Schneider Electric’s Partner locator for end-users; training opportunities; special promotions; and events.
In addition, Partners will receive exclusive access to the My Rewards Loyalty Scheme where they can make their spend on thousands of everyday materials go that bit further and reap a reward for choosing Schneider Electric.
Underpinning the Programme and helping electricians save time online is the launch of the new mySchneider Electrician portal.
The free portal provides a one-stop shop for product information, pricing, stockist locator, online training and quick links to customer and technical support. Partners also get further access to the loyalty scheme facilities and client support tools at Partner rates.
To support the launch of the portal, Partners have the chance to enter the Business Booster prize draw and win up to £5,000 to spend on their business simply by registering and activating their mySchneider Electrician portal.
One lucky winner will have the chance to spend the prize money on anything from a new website, to branded workwear, company video, van wrap or van insurance and trade membership fees paid for one year.
“I’ve been really happy with the quality of Schneider Electric products and the Partner scheme benefits are useful extras that set it apart from other manufacturers.
Schneider Electric understands the challenges that many electricians face as small or growing business owners in an increasingly demanding and competitive climate. I have no hesitation in recommending the scheme – there’s no risk and plenty of reward!” said Jon Darby at Oldland Electrical.
May Lee, electrician programme manager at Schneider Electric adds, “We believe it’s the cornerstone of our Partner Programme to identify and support the needs of electricians and to truly understand the challenges they face day-to-day.
“Our vision is to be the electrician’s business partner of choice by making their life and the running of their business easier; ensuring we continuously invest, innovate and provide the value and support they really need in the field and online.”
For more information about the Electrician Partner Programme, customers can contact their local Schneider Electric representative or visit: http://www.schneider-electric.co.uk/en/partners/electricians/
More funding available to boost apprenticeships
A number of new measures have been announced by the Government designed to help employers take on more apprentices, including a budget of £60m to be spent on helping to get young people from deprived backgrounds into work. It is hoped that the reforms will result in the creation of 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees will be entitled to receive 100% of the cost of training apprentices between 16 and 18. This will also apply if they take on 19 to 24 year olds who were in care.
The apprenticeship levy will be set at 0.5% of the pay bill, but will only be payable by those employers with a payroll above £3m. It is estimated that this will apply to just 2% of employers.
The Government has also simplified the funding model and built in greater flexibility so employers will now have longer to access the funds. The new scheme also provides greater flexibility to train those with prior qualifications in a bid to help existing workers develop new skills.
The announcement has received the support of industry bodies such as the Building Services Engineering Association (BESA) and the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC).
“This is the news we have been waiting for,” says BESA’s Director of Training, Tony Howard. “Employers need certainty about future funding provision so they can plan their recruitment strategies, and this provides welcome reassurance.”
Graeme Dryden, Technical Services Manager at APHC, adds: “It’s encouraging to see further evidence of the Government’s commitment to creating apprenticeships. These latest policies certainly appear new and fresh, with good opportunities for smaller employers to engage with apprenticeship training.”
SELECT wants to make “Electrician” a registered profession
SELECT signals to Scottish Parliament that it intends to push for legislative change to make “Electrician” a regulated profession.
SELECT, the campaigning trade body for the electro-technical industry in Scotland, has signalled to the Scottish Parliament that it intends to press hard to make the occupation of electrician a regulated profession in the same way that anyone working with gas is currently required by statute to be regulated.
Presenting the Scottish Committee MSP of the Year Award at The Herald newspaper’s Scottish Politician of the Year event in Edinburgh last night (Thursday 27th October 2016), SELECT’s Head of External Affairs, David Wright, said that the risk posed to Scotland’s householders increases with every passing year as the number of untrained individuals portraying themselves as ‘electricians’ gets bigger and bigger.
“ I’m an economist by training but if I wished, I could start up in business as an electrician tomorrow,” said David, “but it would not be a good idea.”
“Incredibly, it is not illegal to do that – but we believe that it most certainly should be. So that, when we are in our homes of an evening, we can enjoy the same protection from electrical risks as we currently do from gas faults”.
Mr. Wright said that before Christmas the Minister and the Scottish Government’s ‘Better Regulation’ team will receive a report from SELECT which puts the case for statutory “Regulation of Electrician as a Profession” to bring Scotland into line with other civilised European countries”.
Newell McGuiness, SELECT’s Managing Director, said: “It has been a long-standing goal of ours to achieve Regulation for our industry because the population of Scotland is being exposed to unreasonable risks associated with electrocution and fire without even being aware of this.
“Last night we announced our intention to secure the support of Scotland’s politicians – and of the general public to deliver statutory regulation for our industry. Many occupations from lawyer and doctor to bodyguard and night club bouncer are regulated in the UK but Electrician is not one of them.
“Electrical installation is a safety critical occupation and it’s time for Scotland’s politicians to acknowledge that where there is electricity, there is danger – and to do the right thing”.
SELECT’s 1200 members account for around 90% of all electrical installation work carried out in Scotland and have a collective turnover of around £1 billion, providing employment for some 15,000 electricians.