Electrical Safety First is urging the government to address poor-quality housing after it found that one million people aged over 75 currently live in properties that fail to meet the government’s Decent Homes Standard.
A Shock to the System: Electrical Safety in an Ageing Society revealed that current housing stock puts vulnerable individuals at risk and is unfit for people to age safely in their own homes - with those in low-income households or rural areas most affected.
A lack of new builds combined with an ageing population was compounding the problem.
Almost two-thirds of households of couples aged over 60 failed to meet basic electrical safety standards. The report said individuals in these premises are living without devices such as modern fuseboxs, residual current devices, circuit breakers and PVC wiring.
It found that older people were disproportionately at risk because they were living in their properties for longer, which often resulted in greater gaps between comprehensive checks. Electrical installations and appliances also tended to be older.
Electrical Safety First is calling on the government to:
- ensure all housing meets the Decent Homes Standard to prevent injuries and deaths from electrical hazards;
- make it mandatory for private landlords to ensure electrical installations are checked every five years;
- ensure tenants are protected so they can report electrical hazards to landlords without fear of eviction;
- target more “at-risk” homes – for example, those of older people who have lived in the same property for a long period of time – with free electrical safety checks; and
- work with the voluntary sector to ensure that older people can claim the benefits they are entitled to, which can be used to carry out electrical repair work.
Electrical Safety First director-general Phil Buckle said: “A million over-75s live in housing deemed non-decent by the government’s own standards. A shortage of new builds means that housing stock will continue to age, electrics will continue to deteriorate and vulnerable people will continue to be put at risk.
“Most of us want to stay in our home as long as possible, but we need central and local governments to act to ensure elderly people can maintain their independence by living in safe and decent houses.”