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SNIPEF Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation

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January 2018


Skills development in the plumbng sector is changing

SNIPEF Training Services acts as the Managing Agent and Training Provider for the Modern Apprenticeship (MA) in Plumbing in Scotland. While apprentice recruitment in Scotland has not recovered to pre- recession levels, we were delighted to bring a 300 new apprentices onto the programme last year bringing the total number of apprentices undergoing training to just over 800. We hope that the number of apprenticeships continues to grow to meet the skills shortages now and into the future.


Summit Skills was the sector skills council for the Building Services Sector and was responsible for developing the content of the apprenticeship training programme. Since its demise in the first half of 2017, SNIPEF has been working with other organisations to ensure that the needs of employers continue to be represented in the programme. SNIPEF in partnership with APHC and BPEC has formed the Plumbing and Heating Skills Partnership (PHSP), the key focus of which is to support plumbing and domestic heating employers in developing and driving forward the industry’s skills agenda. In addition, BSE Skills Ltd, a joint venture between SNIPEF, SELECT and BESA has been formed and will submit a tender to Skills Development Scotland to take over responsibility for the NOS, frameworks and qualifications within the sector.  SNIPEF will be setting up Employer Meetings in Scotland and Northern Ireland in early 2018. The focus of these meeting is to liaise with employers and ensure the qualification continues to meet the demands of their businesses.


September 2016


We are proud to be supporting Gas Safety Week 2016, taking place 19th – 25th September.

Gas Safety Week is an annual safety week to raise awareness of gas safety and the importance of taking care of your gas appliances. It is co-ordinated by Gas Safe Register, the official list of gas engineers who are legally allowed to work on gas.  

Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. It is a highly poisonous gas. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it, but it can kill quickly with no warning.

If you’re a Gas Safe registered engineer, help remind customers they should:

  • Check their gas appliances every year. Gas appliances should be safety checked once a year and serviced regularly by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Tenants – make sure the landlord arranges this. Encourage your customers to set a reminder so they don’t forget at www.staygassafe.co.uk.
  • Check their engineer is Gas Safe registered. They can find and check an engineer at www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.
  • Check their engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card. Make sure they are qualified for the work they need doing. They can find this information on the back of the card.
  • Check for warning signs their appliances aren’t working correctly e.g. lazy yellow or orange flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.
  • Check they know the six signs of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.
  • Check they have an audible carbon monoxide alarm. This will alert them if there is carbon monoxide in their home. 

Be part of this national campaign with events, advertising and PR taking place across the country to help keep the nation Gas Safe. To get involved and order materials to raise awareness of gas safety visit www.gassafetyweek.co.uk. Alternatively email marketing@gassaferegister.co.uk.

July 2016


SNIPEF’s new CEO, Fiona Hodgson sets out her plans for the Federation

I am honoured and delighted to have been chosen as SNIPEF’s next Chief Executive. It will be a privilege to lead the organisation and build upon the great work of my predecessors.

I look forward to growing the organisation and raising its profile within the industry. We will build on our strengths and ensure we develop to meet the needs and expectations of both current and prospective members.

SNIPEF was established in 1923 and has a long, proud history with solid foundations. The world around us is changing however, and we like it need to embrace change and be open to new ways of working and new technologies. I want to use new technologies to engage more with members so that SNIPEF as an organisation can better serve the needs of its members.

We are just beginning to come out of one of the worst recessions in history and while the economy may see signs of recovery our industry has been left with many challenges. SNIPEF published its first ever Manifesto this year bringing the challenges we face to the political table: skills shortages, poor payment practices, retentions and renewable energy. In addition to this, many of our members have been affected by changes to pension legislation leaving them uncertain about the future. In my role as Chief Executive I will lobby government to address the challenges we face and bring about change.

SNIPEF is here to listen to and support its members. I have a great team in both my colleagues and the SNIPEF Office Bearers and I look forward to the opportunities ahead of us.

April 2016


Voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland go to the polls on Thursday 5 May 2016 to elect their representatives in the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly for the next 5 years. With both of these bodies now having suspended normal business to allow election campaigning to take place, SNIPEF has prepared its manifestos for Scotland and Northern Ireland setting out what it believes the plumbing industry and its member firms would like to see changed in the near future.

Devolving power to Scotland and Northern Ireland has meant that many decisions that impact directly on firms in the plumbing industry are taken by the devolved administrations rather than by the Westminster Government. The skills agenda and building regulations are just two examples where decisions made in Edinburgh or Belfast can have a direct impact on plumbing. The SNIPEF manifestos call for change on both of these issues and also on matters such as unfair payment terms in building contracts, the way in which public work is procured and an end to the practice of main contractors holding onto cash retentions.

Copies of the SNIPEF manifestos have been circulated to all elected members of the last Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly and are being used at SNIPEF meetings to encourage member firms to raise some issues with the candidates - of whatever political persuasion - who are standing in their areas.

The SNIPEF manifestos for the 2016 elections are being sent to all members and can be downloaded here. If your local candidates happen to ring your doorbell, why not take the opportunity to ask what they can do to support our requests and help your business? 

There seems to be an increase in the number of local hustings meetings that are being arranged when all candidates in an area attend to answer questions posed by constituents. It would be good to think that some of the issues raised by SNIPEF will be featured at some of these events in the next few weeks. It would be even better if the elected members of the two bodies are inspired to take action on at least some of the requests set out by SNIPEF- that WOULD be a result!

To discuss any of the issues raised in the manifestos please get in touch.

February 2016



Next month sees the 7th celebration of World Plumbing Day. March 11 (“every year everywhere”) has been designated by the World Plumbing Council as a day on which the entire industry is encouraged to take the opportunity to promote the important role plumbing plays, including its relevance to public health.

A longstanding frustration for people who are involved with plumbing industry organisations such as SNIPEF is that many (if indeed not most) customers of the plumbing industry fail to respect their plumbing. Plumbing problems are too often seen as a nuisance that needs to be fixed as quickly as possible at the lowest possible price. Even when the plumbing work is new, as opposed to a repair, there is pressure to minimise the price. Although it is human nature to contain costs where possible, in plumbing, this can mean compromising quality and professionalism with potentially disastrous consequences.

In his message for World Plumbing Day 2016, the Chairman of the World Plumbing Council, Sudhakaran Nair of India, writes “Implementation of good plumbing systems does not call for rocket science. Plumbing affects each one of us in our daily lives. Whether the effect is beneficial or detrimental depends directly on the quality of the plumbing installation. This awareness has to percolate to every individual.”

Sadly in India, many people still die each year simply because they don’t have access to even basic plumbing systems. The developed world generally enjoys good quality plumbing so deaths related to plumbing and sanitation are less frequent. However, they can and do happen and the message of World Plumbing Day 2016 is as relevant in the United Kingdom as it is in any other country.

It may take time, but we should all hope that the message of World Plumbing Day - plumbing is vital to global health - becomes recognised by more and more people each year. That would be a good result for our citizens and it would also be a good result for the professional plumbing industry, including SNIPEF members.

For more information on World Plumbing Day, visit www.worldplumbingday.org

January 2016



At the beginning of any new year it is tempting to wonder what the year ahead will bring. Whether one makes (and breaks) new year resolutions or not, it is a worthwhile exercise for any business owner to spend a little time both reflecting on the experience of the year just past and also to consider strategy for the year ahead.

For SNIPEF member firms, 2015 certainly saw a number of opportunities that are likely to continue in 2016. The organisation’s Approved Certifier of Construction Scheme continues to grow as businesses come to appreciate the benefits of being able to self-certify that their work meets the requirements of building regulations in Scotland. The growth in awareness of the need for landlords to have plumbing systems risk-assessed against the dangers of legionella provides suitably qualified plumbing businesses with a diversification opportunity. The general (if still shaky) improvement in the general economy (perhaps more in Scotland than in Northern Ireland) might also mean that order books will continue to look relatively healthy.

On the flipside, there are, inevitably, challenges ahead. Parts of the construction industry in some areas of the United Kingdom have been reporting skills shortages for some time. While this may not yet have hit plumbing in Scotland and Northern Ireland, it is likely that this problem might manifest itself before too long. The recruitment of new apprentices in the last couple of years has increased marginally but the position in Scotland (where most apprentice training is managed by SNIPEF Training Services) is still only 14% higher than the position at the height of the recession (which was 50% below that of pre-recession numbers). At a time when workload is improving, this is worrying and could indicate that problems lie ahead. In spite of encouraging words from politicians about reducing the impact of regulation on businesses (and especially small businesses), the fact remains that it is far more difficult to run a business now and to keep within the law than it has ever been. This creates an ongoing challenge for many plumbing businesses and it is difficult to predict a significant improvement any time soon. Finally, residents and businesses in both Scotland and Northern Ireland face the unpredictability that May’s elections will bring against a background of ongoing political uncertainty both in the UK and globally (although SNIPEF will be communicating its wish list (manifesto) which will be shared with each of the political parties ahead of these elections).

In wishing that 2016 is truly a Happy New Year for SNIPEF members, their employees and customers, we hope that the opportunities will outweigh the challenges in the year ahead.




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