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Electrical industry bodies to combine certification

The Electrical Contractors’ Association is to join forces with the Electrical Safety Council under a new joint venture that will see the two bodies merge their contractor registers.

In a move they say will “bring the electrical contracting industry together as never before”, the bodies are creating a new Electrical Safety Register,containing 80 per cent of the UK’s electrical contractors and promoted to hundreds of thousands of customers.

From 1 April 2013, NICEIC and ELECSA will be run by a joint venture named Certsure, and will operate the single register as a “definitive searchable database”.

ECA chief executive Steve Bratt said Certsure would be an “equally-owned, equally governed company” that would “take on board the operations of both those businesses.”

He added that it would foster “unity for our sector, simplicity for our clients and consumers, and we also believe it will provide benefits for the contractors.”

Mr Bratt said the move showed that “we’ve listened – to government who want industry to solve its own issues, and to consumers, who want one place to go”.

He confirmed that assets were being transferred into the newly created company, which would not act as a trading entity.

However, Emma Clancy, chief executive of Ascertiva, the body that oversees ELECSA, suggested that the door may be open to a merging of the bodies.

She said that after two years of running in parallel, they “will see where that takes us”

“If there’s a desire to come under one clear brand in the future that’s what will be developed – but there’s currently no intention to change those brands.”

Ms Clancy added that over two years had been spent working on the move. “It’s on the customer that I want to focus,” she said. “The customer was at the start of this process and they are at the heart of this.”

She said there would be no initial change for customers, but over time promotions, customer service and technical standards would become “a lot, lot better”, with ideas and a programme of benefits “drip-feeding to our customers”.

Fees would be harmonised downwards in cases where customers pay more under NICEIC than ELECSA, Ms Clancy added.

New, free training courses are also being targeted towards growth areas, potentially in electric vehicles, the Green Deal and microgeneration technologies.

The ECA is the UK’s largest trade association representing electrical engineering and contracting firms, while the ECS is a charity that aims to reduce death and injury in the industry.

ESC chair Charles Tanswell said the partnership would lead to “significant” benefits for consumers and electricians.

He said: “In particular, for the consumer it means more can be done to raise awareness of the benefits of using registered electricians and we’re delighted that this partnership ensures solid industry support for the charity and its work.”  

ECA president Paul McNaughton said the partnership marked “a new beginning” for electrical contracting.

“There is strength in unity and this alliance unites the key electrical industry players. The sector trade association, the electrical consumer charity and the leading certification body, while providing clarity to the consumer and a consolidated voice to government on common issues.”

Turstmark chair Liz Male added that she “doesn’t believe any one organisation can achieve consumer protection on their own”.

“There are too many websites out there at the moment – we have got to work together more effectively.”

“There’s not enough rigour, I’m afraid, in some of the sites out there now.”

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