A HOLMFIRTH electrician has hit out at new Government rules for carrying out electrical work in people's homes.

James MacDonald, 30, has worked in the trade since he was 16 and set up his own firm, MacDonald Electrical, in 2003.

He says the new measures are confusing for customers and have not been well advertised by the Government.

The regulations came in on January 1 in a bid to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by people doing DIY electrical work.

The rules say any electrical work - such as fitting extra sockets - carried out in kitchens, bathrooms or outside a property must be done by a ``competent person" who is registered with one of five Government-approved bodies.

The competent person is responsible for testing and inspecting their work and that of their staff.

They then have to pay a fee to tell the council's building control department that the work has been done to the required standard.

If a competent person is not carrying out the work, building control must be told before work starts, so it can be inspected at intervals.

Mr MacDonald has spent six months and £450 taking tests to become registered as a competent person with one of the Government-approved bodies, the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting.

He has also had to take out public liability insurance cover worth £2m.

But he feels the new system is flawed.

He said: "You need a degree of electrical competence to take the test. But it is available to tradesmen such as kitchen fitters.

"They can do a quick course and take the test and be judged competent.

"So you end up with someone who has worked all their life as a qualified electrician competing against someone who has just done a quick course.

"The new rules make things confusing for people," added Mr MacDonald.

"The Government should either have done nothing or said you can't do any work on a house unless you are a qualified electrician. You can't have half a rule," he said.

Mr MacDonald also feels the Government has not advertised the new rules properly.

He said: "I'm absolutely disgusted. It's supposed to be to protect people, but I haven't seen anything advertising it at all.

"We have extra costs by being registered and these will be passed on to the customer. Yet I've only had one customer who had heard about it before I told them.

"The new rules could be put up in DIY stores or advertised in newspapers," said Mr MacDonald.

For further information on the new rules and a list of the five bodies which register competent people, visit www.odpm.gov.uk/electrical safety