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Government rolls up their sleeves to create 140,000 jobs

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 6th September 2012

In a statement released today, David Cameron has released details of his plans to help revitalise the construction industry. His statement highlighted details of how the cabinet are pursuing the removal of some of the restrictions that currently surround measures to gain planning permission.

This announcement comes at a time where the construction industry has received a slight dip in growth due to the amount of hurdles homeowners have to overcome in order to begin works on their homes. According to the independent “almost 200,000 households apply each year for permission to make improvements such as conservatories, rear extensions and garage conversions;” however the process of gaining planning permission can take years. By temporarily removing the bureaucracy surrounding planning permission, homeowners will be able to expand with no need to ask their local authority. This rule will apply to shops, offices and industrial units during this time.

The current rules stipulate that single-storey extensions can be construction freely without the need for planning permission providing they do not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by a set distance. The limit for semidetached properties is 3 meters whilst an extra meter is given to detached properties looking to extend in this way. Under the new rules, set to be enforced next month, these limits will be doubled however these changes are not currently set to apply to loft extensions.

“The measures announced today show this government is serious about rolling its sleeves up and doing all it can to kick-start the economy,” Cameron said.

“Some of the proposals are controversial; others have been a long time in coming,” he said. “But along with our housing strategy, they provide a comprehensive plan to unleash one of the biggest homebuilding programmes this country has seen in a generation. That means more investment around the county; more jobs for our people; and more young families able to realize their dreams and get on the housing ladder.”

George Osborne’s ‘£60 billion’ investment into the infrastructure is also set to help first-time buyers who will be offered equity loans of up to 20% of the property value that can be used as a deposit.


Categories: david cameron, electrical, company news, government

Part P to reform

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 11th July 2012

Today we can reveal the government’s response to the Parliamentary Select Committees report on Part P of the building regulations which comes in the form of a 14 page document confirming that Part P will be made mandatory but improved.

This comes as no surprise seeing at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) indicated these findings in their report which was published in earlier this year. The report outlines the need for revisions however as government are “satisfied that Part P has been successful in driving up standards and in reducing the number of electrical faults. We would therefore be reluctant to endorse any diminution of the scope or operation of Part P, which might reverse that trend.”


In attempt to raise public awareness over electrical safety in the home, the government have said they “have introduced new provisions, which require scheme operators to promote and publicise the benefits of Competent Person Schemes and raise public awareness of the responsibility to comply with 12 the Building Regulations. We see merit in the scheme providers working in partnership with retailers and manufacturers and will encourage them to do so.” 

However the government feels that “There are already good examples of retailers providing the public with information on the Building Regulation and safety requirements.  The Government would welcome further voluntary action by retailers and manufacturers but at present the Government does not believe there is a need for regulation."

The DCLG have confirmed they will be “actively seeking all available evidence” before any final decisions. Any changes are likely to come into place in April 2013.

The full report can be downloaded here.


Categories: electrical, part p, government

May 2012: Draft Energy Bill Published

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 22nd May 2012

Today the Department of Energy and Climate Change published the long awaited Draft Energy Bill which includes details of the UK Electricity Market Reform (EMR). 


The EMR details how the government intends to plan the future of the UK’s electrical market and how we can move our traditionally sourced supply to meet our green energy targets of 15% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

For those who don’t want to flick through the 302 page document, we have outlined the key points from the EMR below and defined the two main revisions.

To secure the investment needed to deliver a reliable and sustainably diverse low carbon technology mix.

To help maintain the government’s long term vision of creating a market full of low carbon energy generators that perform fairly and at stable carbon price’s. This vision is at least 10-15 years away as many carbon generators are still in the midst of development.

Provide key processes that enable us to meet and enforce the long term vision.

Government hope to achieve these objectives through the following two revisions;

The government have appointed the National Grid as an independent System operator to provide analytical basis for government decisions.

The government have also asked the National grid to administer new systems of low-carbon generation revenue support known as ‘Contracts for Difference’ (CfDs) and a Capacity Market.

By announcing these two main reforms, are positives steps towards a safer future and will leave the UK less vulnerable to growing energy prices and relieving some of the stress of the 250,000 jobs in the energy sector.

The full Draft Energy Bill can be read by clicking here.



Categories: renewable energy, government

Queen Speech: How her government’s plans affect you?

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 10th May 2012

Yesterday the Queen’s speech confirmed a number of important plans for the year ahead whilst setting out her government agenda yesterday. Some of the announcements were to be expected, however there were some real positive moves as well as some controversial points which are bound to create a stir.

However the following may affect the practising electrician so they’re worth a skim:

Energy Bill

An energy bill detailing the Coalition's proposals for electricity market reform was announced yesterday. The Bill is scheduled to become law in 2013 and will ‘propose reform of the electricity market to deliver secure, clean, and affordable electricity, and ensure prices are fair’.

This bill has been on the agenda for some time so was positive news for the industry to hear it being confirmed yesterday. The bill is expected to be published on 22nd May 2012 as the ‘crucial legislation’ will be able to ‘keep the lights on and emissions down in a more cost-effective way, while reaping the economic benefits’. It is set to reform the electricity market by encouraging more investment in low carbon generation and trying to ensure that electricity is delivered securely, clean and that prices are fair.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

Ever been put off employing extra staff in fear that if it doesn’t work out you could be left liable? In a bid to give employers more confidence to hire staff, the ‘enterprise and regulatory reform bill’ aims to make it simpler to dismiss them. By giving employers more power it may encourage "settlement agreements” and the like so that workers could be paid off by consent.

A Banking Reform Bill

This bill aims to push banks to lend to more individuals and businesses rather than invest in large corporate companies. By the retails banks separating their retail arms like this we can hopefully prevent the need for future bank bailouts

Child Care

In an attempt to equalise the need to spend time with your children when they are first born, maternity and paternity leave will be made more flexible so mothers and fathers can share caring responsibilities. In addition to this the process of inter-racial adoption will be made easier along with equalising access to children when parents separate or divorce.


Categories: electrical, renewable energy, government

Third Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM3) to firm US & UK wind power agreement

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 24th April 2012

Starting tomorrow, the UK will be hosting the third ‘Clean Energy Ministerial’ (CEM3) at Lancaster House in London. During the two day event, the CEM3 aims outline how to accelerate the transition to clean energy technologies.

Even though the event covers a vast range of renewable technologies such as solar, bioenergy and hydropower; the main topic to be discussed is thought to be wind power. ‘Floating wind turbines’ as the DECC have put in in their press release, is to be the ‘initial focus of a new agreement between Britain and the United states’ and energy ministers are said to be convening at this event to begin discussing the deployment of this technology.

Commenting on the agreement, Energy Secretary Edward Davey has said:

“Britain has more wind turbines installed around its shores than any other country in the world and our market is rated year after year as the most attractive market among investors.

“Offshore wind is critical for the UK’s energy future and there is big interest around the world in what we’re doing.

“Floating wind turbines will allow us to exploit more of our wind resource, potentially more cheaply.

“Turbines will be able to locate in ever deeper waters where the wind is stronger but without the expense of foundations down to the seabed or having to undertake major repairs out at sea.

“The UK and US are both making funding available for this technology and we’re determined to work together to capitalise on this shared intent.”

Overall 23 energy ministers will be attending the two day event from some of the world’s leading economies and will it be interesting to see what the gathering will produce.





Categories: renewable energy, government

As the Easter Holidays are put to bed – let’s hope the ‘Tenants Cashback scheme’ follows suit.

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 18th April 2012

Shockingly over 75% of DIYers will have attempted to dabble in a bit of home maintenance without having ANY form of expert help. Needless to say the danger that these people will have put themselves is absurd; however it may not be without guidance from no other than our own government.

As an initiative to encourage tenants of social housing landlords to carry out their own repairs and improvements, the government have launched a ‘Tenants Cash back Scheme.’ This scheme is to ‘award’ tenants up to £500 a year for carrying out minor repairs onto their homes such as painting and decorating and fixing leaky taps.

The Housing Minister, Mr Grant Schapps has even gone on to encourage those who pick up a taste for the skills to begin a new ‘fulfilling career’ by starting works in their own homes.

As electrical training specialists, we campaign to prevent unqualified works occurring in the home by raising awareness of the types of dangers that can transpire when untrained persons attempt their own installations. Without the right guidance, knowledge and equipment the unthinkable tragedies can occur because let’s face it – electricity kills.

It is shocking that Mr Schapps is prepared to endorse untrained works in the home; it makes a mockery of the small contractor companies and training companies that fight hard and train hard to minimalise rogue traders and the injury and fatalities that occur with this type of work. Cash like this would be better spent reviving the famous Feed-In-Tariffs rather than awarding the unqualified.

The scheme has the potential to cause chaos as untrained tenants scour their properties for broken/damaged fixtures in a hope for getting some fast cash. One can only hope that tenants don’t begin to purposely inflict damage to their own properties in a bid to obtain this cash.

In recession led time, it’s understandable that organisations outline strategies to manage budgets but at what cost? the nations safety? Good one Mr Schapps!

* - Santander Insurance statistic

Image Source: http://www.idealgroupuk.co.uk 

Categories: government

Breaking News: Supreme Court rejects government’s feed-in tariff solar appeal

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 23rd March 2012

BREAKING NEWS: The Supreme Court has today thrown out the government's appeal against a previous ruling that deemed its controversial changes to solar feed-in tariff (FIT) incentives as unlawful.

This ruling means that companies who installed panels between December 2011 and March 2012 will receive the high feed-in-tariff rate of 43.3p kWh instead of the 21p/kWh initially proposed by the government.

This long awaited decision finally closes the door on the drawn out saga generated by the government and highlights their ‘unlawful’ attempt to cut the feed-in-tariffs (FiT’s) at an unprecedented rate last year.

Even though the decision is one step forward for solar, fresh cuts are anticipated as the FiT’s will undoubtedly continue to exceed its budget this year allowing the government to bring out a second round of cuts to the incentive scheme.

"The extra money DECC will now have to commit leaves us with serious concerns about the remaining FIT budget, which remains constrained under the Levy Control Framework," said Paul Barwell, chief executive at the Solar Trade Association.


Categories: decc, government, solar pv, feed-in-tariff

Henry Smith MP Visits Trade Skills 4U

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 9th February 2012

Crawley MP Henry Smith got the chance to meet several prospective electrical apprentices today as he visited our dedicated electrical centre in Crawley, West Sussex.

As part of National Apprenticeship week, we are holding three taster days for young people looking to learn about apprenticeships and what a career in electrics could offer them.

“To get support from Henry on a day like today is fantastic; he was able to get his message of support across to the students themselves  and help them realise what a lucrative career electrics is,” said Carl Bennett, Managing Director of Trade Skills 4U.

“Carl Bennett and Trade Skills 4U are doing incredible things here; the facilities are excellent and they really care about young people and their futures. Electrics are a stable and worthwhile career option and I am extremely grateful for the work they are doing at Trade Skills 4U,” Said Henry Smith MP.

As part of our on-going support for electrical apprentices, we are holding electrical taster weeks throughout the year for those who are looking to get some hands on experience to see if this career is for them.

These young person’s Apprenticeship taster weeks cost £120.00 for 5 days of training and can be made bespoke by schools or colleges looking to encourage students to take up this type of learning after they finish school at 16 or after college at 18.

If you are from a school or college and are interested in this type of event, call us on 01293 529777 and ask for Chloe.

Categories: company news, government, events, apprenticeships

FIT Update: The Current Position

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 30th January 2012

On Wednesday 25th January 2012 the DECC lost their appeal against the tariff rates and have since announced their intention for further appeal. The court of appeal haven’t yet granted the DECC permission for further appeal but they are seeking direct permission from the Supreme Court in which to do so.

Should they be granted leave to appeal and become successful it could take up to a year before the final outcome is known. This appeal could also mean that they will be able to legislate to apply new tariff from the 12th December reference date.

Oh the uncertainty.

This uncertainty of not being able to guarantee either tariff rate (reduced rate at 21p kwh or last year’s higher rate of 43.3p kwh) on installations made between 12 December 2011 and 3rd March 2012, means that installers cannot correctly promote their services and homeowners are less confident about installing panels when they are less certain about the return of investment.

Delaying the outcome of the case could cause further damage to the industry due to the negative hype they’re continuing to create. The government are very keen not to give away 43.3p kwh as they simply cannot afford it so are trying their best to put off other buyers & installers off solar for selfish reasons until the next consultation on 3rd March 2012.

In an announcement by the DECC and in their formal response to question 1 of the consultation they have however confirmed that tariff rates will be no lower than 21p kwh from 1st April 2012 even if they government win their appeal.

Homeowners should be jumping at the chance to get involved as they may potentially be eligible to receive the higher rate of 43.3p kWh should the government lose their appeal. They have already lost twice so it might just be worth the gamble.


Categories: decc, government, feed-in-tariff

Government loses right to appeal FIT tariff ruling

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 25th January 2012

Towards the end of the year we blogged about how the government cuts to the feed in tariff had been ruled unlawful. At the time the government were not given leave to appeal but they then proceeded to do just that. However the Court of Appeal has today denied the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) a hearing for its appeal against the High Court’s ruling back in 2011

So what does this mean?

There is still some confusion about what happens now. Essentially the feed-in tariff will increase back to 43.3p for system installed on or before March 3, 2012. It also means that for many people who had solar PV systems installed since the original proposed cut off date of December 12, and those who intend to install systems before the March 3 cut-off point, will receive the higher feed-in tariff rates for the full 25 years. Installations completed and registered on or after March 3 will qualify for the current higher rate until April 1, at which point the rates will drop to 21p. **(See update below)

The decision is likely to lead to another period of frantic activity and installations for many in the industry. The original announcement was made back in November and provided just over 1 month for installers to complete their installations. As a result more PV installation were completed in November than for previous months in 2011.

Many in the industry see this decision as a victory for common sense and justice:

Daniel Green, CEO of HomeSun, said: “Four judges, including three in the Court of Appeal, have now called the Government’s actions illegal. That’s a four-nil victory and a decisive ruling that Government may not make retrospective changes to the FiT because, as Lord Justice Moses concludes, to do so ‘would be to take away an existing entitlement without statutory authority.’”

“Both this appeal and the Judicial Review in The High Court would not have been required had DECC simply followed its own process and allowed the industry, that it claims to support, time to prepare for a lower feed-in tariff,” continued Green.

It is right that the government be held accountable for their actions and the way in which rash decision and actions impact on industry. However what the industry really needs now and in the future is stability. Hopefully the ruling will help towards this. Greg Barker said it best when he tweeted:

“Win, lose or draw today, important we move forward together, drive down costs + step up deployment.”

This is and will be the key aim for the industry moving forwards.

**UPDATE: 12.30pm: The government within the last hour has confirmed they intend to appeal this decision. As such this again throws uncertainty over whether or not PV installations will qualify for the higher tariff despite the fact it is highly unlikely the government will win this appeal.


Categories: decc, government, feed-in-tariff