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NICEIC Urges Homeowners to Dodge a DIY Disaster and Stay Safe during Lockdown

WITH it widely reported that more and more Brits are spending the current lockdown period investing in home improvements, NICEIC is urging homeowners to steer clear of electrics; or risk potentially putting their homes and families in grave danger. As millions of consumers across the country become accustomed to staying at home, a recent study1 has found that three quarters (71%) are planning on dusting off the tools and taking the opportunity to indulge in some DIY. However, NICEIC is keen to remind:- 'have a go' homeowners that dabbling in DIY as opposed to calling in a professional has been shown to come at a cost; particularly when it comes to electrics. A previous study by the leading electrical inspection authority found that asides from the standard home improvement work such as painting and decorating, a worrying 24% of Brits would happily have a go at dangerous electrical work without any prior experience. Worse still, 23% admitted they had previously had to call in a professional to correct a botched job, leaving them an average of ₤1164.92 out of pocket. Darren Staniforth, NICEIC's Senior Technical Presenter, comments:- "As homeowners adjust to the current lockdown, it is understandable that they might want to use the extra time at home getting to grips with those odd jobs that you might not otherwise have time to do. However, it's important not to get too carried away and to know their limitations; there is a stark difference, after all, in adding a new lick of paint, or fixing furniture to dabbling with electrics."

Each year around 12,500 house fires, 750 serious injuries and 10 deaths are caused by unsafe electrics in the home. According to Electrical Safety First, the leading charity for electrical safety, almost ½ of all electric shocks described as severe are the result of a DIY error. Darren adds:- "For us, the message is simple; do not mess with electrics. Even if it appears to be a relatively simple, straightforward job, it's important to remember that electrics can be deadly and simply must not be meddled with. At the current time it may be that homeowners are unable to seek a professional electrician, aside from incidences of essential work. However, in the interim period we would seriously encourage them to park any non-essential electrical work in order to keep their home and family safe during this unprecedented period."

You can search for a registered electrician in your area by visiting:- NICEIC.Com.

Historic England announces Covid-19 emergency response fund

HISTORIC England has launched an emergency fund to help tackle the impact of Coronavirus on the heritage sector. The aim of the fund, which will be up to ₤2m, is to extend the safety net as far as possible for the sector by helping small heritage organisations both to survive the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic, and to prepare for recovery.  Historic England, which is responsible for protecting and championing the nation's historic environment, has developed the Covid-19 emergency fund in response to its own comprehensive survey of heritage organisations.

This survey revealed the serious impact of Coronavirus on the sector, particularly on small organisations (10 employees or fewer). 8 out of 10 respondents (77%) to the survey reported they had lost business in the short term, while 6 out of 10 (59%) had been forced to postpone or cancel income generating events.  Whilst the impact of Coronavirus has been serious, Government support schemes are providing assistance and 90% of businesses felt able to keep going in the short term. Craft workers and professionals such as architects, engineers and surveyors appear to be most vulnerable with 50% in the North West concerned for their businesses and in need of additional support. Craft workers and professionals such as architects, engineers and surveyors appear to be most vulnerable, with 50% in the North West predicting their businesses will fail within 3 months unless they receive additional support. These small businesses are crucial to the operation of England's heritage construction sector, which generates an estimated ₤7.1bn in GVA to the economy. The sector employs 100,000 construction workers (including:- specialised craftspeople), 6,000 archaeologists and 24,000 architects, engineers and quantity surveyors. They are vital for the maintenance and continued enjoyment of England's heritage.

Historic England is inviting applications from heritage organisations, self employed contractors, 3rd sector organisations and voluntary groups, that have been severely affected by the impact of Coronavirus and which need additional short term emergency financial support to ensure their survival.  The organisation will also consider supporting projects and activities that respond to the current crisis and contribute to recovery in the heritage sector. The fund is designed to complement the measures already put in place by the Government, as well as the National Lottery Heritage Fund's recently announced ₤50million emergency fund.

Duncan Wilson, Historic England's Chief Executive, said:- "We know that Coronavirus has hit everyone hard, including the heritage sector, and that there are many individuals and organisations that are really struggling for survival at the moment. The safeguarding of their livelihoods will also determine the survival of our most precious heritage. Many of the skills that are needed to protect our heritage are already in desperately short supply and if these skilled specialists go out of business during this difficult time, the hard truth is that some of our heritage will be lost forever."

Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston said:- "This funding from Historic England is a very welcome addition to the unprecedented package of support from the Government and will help support our heritage organisations through this challenging time. This will allow the sector to carry out important work to protect our heritage at a time when people must follow the Government instruction to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives."

Applicants are invited to apply for grants of up to ₤25,000 to address financial difficulties arising from Coronavirus. Grants of ₤50,000 are also available for projects and activities that reduce risks to heritage by providing information, resources and skills. Existing Historic England grant recipients should get in contact with their individual project contacts to discuss what flexibility they might require at this time.  The deadline for new applications is midnight on 3 May 2020 and the funding for successful applications will be awarded from mid-May.  More information on how to apply, please visit:- HistoricEngland.Org.UK.

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