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Why In The Hell Am I Registered With A Competent Persons Scheme?

Mon, 22/02/2016

This is a question that us electricians ask ourselves on almost a daily basis. Perhaps Spencer Henry, a professional, fully qualified and time served electrician from Coventry, can explain more? Below is Spencer's take on the subject:

Electricians and the Competent Person Schemes
You may or may not have heard of them but in the electrical world they prove to be a big problem, and they are the competent person schemes. They exist to extort money from hard working electricians for little more than brand names that half the country hasn’t even heard of.

So what are competent person schemes?
“Competent person schemes were introduced by the Government in 2002 to allow individuals and enterprises to self-certify that their work complies with the Building Regulations as an alternative to submitting a building notice or using an approved inspector.
The principles of self-certification are based on giving people who are competent in their field the ability to self-certify that their work complies with the Building Regulations without the need to submit a building notice and thus incurring local authority inspections or fees. Self-certification can enhance compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations, reduce costs for firms joining authorised schemes, and promote training and competence within the industry. It can also help tackle the problem of 'cowboy builders', and assist local authorities with enforcement of the Building Regulations.”
Extract above taken from planningportal.gov.uk/buildingregulations/howtogetapproval/wheretogetapproval/competentperson
Sounds good right? Unfortunately, this is not the case. There are so many of them for electrical work they don’t play nice with each other, membership prices are extortionate and they make little or no effort to give the facts of what they are really there for.

So here it is.
In the end it all comes down to one important document issued by the government and that is ‘Approved Document P’, sometimes better known as ‘PART P’. This only affects dwellings in the UK and is an easy read for the homeowner or landlord looking to have work done to their home.
It is free to download and available here: planningportal.gov.uk/buildingregulations/approveddocuments/partp/approved
In short the need for a competent person scheme is limited to when you need electrical work in a dwelling done for:
*A new circuit
*A Replacement consumer unit
Or work in a room within a certain proximity of:
*A bathtub or shower tray
*A swimming pool or sauna heater
All other electrical work is not notifiable. There is no need to be registered with a competent person scheme for any commercial or industrial work. As you can see the work they are needed for is minute compared to the vast variety of work an electrician can do.

So who are the competent schemes?
As it stands here is a list of the current schemes, of which your electrician should be a member of at least one to do the work described above as per GOV.UK:

Benchmark, BSI, BESCA, Blue Flame Certification, Certsure, NAPIT, OFTEC or Stroma.
A common complaint among electricians I have talked with in the past is that there should be a single mark, logo, or scheme that identifies a registered competent electrician like GasSafe. Most people know of GasSafe but how many of you know all the companies above?

How do I find out or check if my electrician is a registered competent person?
The government stepped in a few years ago and made sure a single accessible location was available for home owners to check for a competent person across all the available schemes. You can access it at: competentperson.co.uk

You can check out Spencer's original post on Linkedin here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/electricians-competent-person-schemes-spe...

Competent Person Scheme Operators