Publication - Research and analysis

Fuel Poverty Strategy for Scotland: consultation analysis

Published: 27 Jun 2018
Directorate:
Housing and Social Justice Directorate
Part of:
Housing
ISBN:
9781788517522

Analysis of written responses to the public consultation exercise on a draft Fuel Poverty Strategy for Scotland.

Fuel Poverty Strategy for Scotland: consultation analysis
4. Partnership working

4. Partnership working

Summary of Questions 5 to 9

  • The value of close partnership working between national and local services and agencies was emphasised. The importance of better partnership working between housing, health and social care services was highlighted.
  • Respondents saw a role for more effective sharing of good practice, including suggesting that the Scottish Government should do more to support this.
  • The potential for local partners to develop more strategic approaches to tackling fuel poverty was highlighted.
  • Respondents wished to see the Scottish Government produce a reporting framework linked to the outcomes expected from partners.
  • In terms of support for local or community-level organisations to measure and report on their outcomes, respondents tended to focus on the Scottish Government developing a monitoring and evaluation framework.
  • On enhancing the one-stop-shop approach, suggestions included closer working with local partners and community-level organisations as a means of extending the range and quality of services available.

4.1. Section 4 of the consultation paper highlighted the range of national and local partners who will be involved in delivering the Fuel Poverty Strategy. It noted that a comprehensive delivery plan will be required and that the Plan should set out a clear and common aim to eradicate fuel poverty that all partners – across local and national government, business and industry, and the third sector – can sign up to working towards.

Question 5 – [a] Please give us your views on how national partners and local delivery organisations can work better together to identify and support those at risk of, or experiencing fuel poverty? [b] What would best support, or enable such partnerships?

4.2. A total of 79 respondents commented at Question 5a and 65 respondents at 5b. A breakdown of the number of comments received by respondent type is set out in Table 6 below.

Table 6: Number of comments by respondent type

Type of respondent Number of comments at 5a Number of comments at 5b
Organisations:
Community or Tenant Group or Federation 4 4
Energy Company 3 2
Health and Social Care 4 3
Housing Association 8 6
Housing Body or Group 3 1
Inter-agency Group or Partnership 5 4
Local Authority 20 15
Other 6 4
Research Group 1 1
Third Sector 17 16
Organisations 71 56
Individuals 8 9
All respondents 79 65

Partnership working

4.3. Around 1 in 7 of those respondents who answered the question emphasised the value of close partnership working between services and agencies, both national and local, while around 1 in 9 suggested that effective partnership working is already taking place between national and local agencies across Scotland. Around 1 in 8 of those answering the question saw an opportunity to learn from existing partnership working or cited a range of existing approaches and guidance (most commonly guidance from ScotPHN and NHS Health Scotland) as offering potential to inform further development of partnership working. This included specific opportunities for engaging with multiple-deprived and other vulnerable households, and for partners working in an island context.

4.4. However, it was also suggested that more could be done to expand and strengthen partnership working to identify and support those at risk of fuel poverty. Partnership working was described as a means of achieving better outcomes by combining partners’ expertise and capacity and aligning objectives and was seen as particularly relevant in identifying those at risk of fuel poverty, for referrals and signposting and in sharing good practice. Several respondents also referred to the value of partnership working in providing clarity on roles and responsibilities, and in ensuring local agencies feel they are given appropriate status alongside national partners. The importance of clear communication between partners was also highlighted.

4.5. A small number of respondents saw a need to encourage a more nuanced and inclusive understanding of fuel poverty: in particular, it was suggested that the placement of fuel poverty within the housing and energy efficiency policy areas has led some partners to develop a view of fuel poverty as being primarily a housing issue.

4.6. As is noted above, respondents referred to learning from current examples of partnership working, but also noted the importance of flexibility to enable partnership working approaches to respond to local needs. They also reflected views that local partners have a significant role to play in identifying and supporting those at risk of fuel poverty, particularly those with more complex needs and those living in more ‘difficult to treat’ property types. This included some who suggested that a standardised or ‘prescriptive’ approach to partnership working is not likely to be effective.

4.7. In terms of specific services, around 1 in 6 respondents who answered the question referred to the importance of better partnership working between housing, health and social care services. Reference was made to health services having a potentially significant role to play in identifying those at risk of fuel poverty and in signposting to partners, although some difficulty engaging with health and social care services was also reported. Respondents also referred to links with HES, Community Energy Scotland, Care and Repair, Citizens Advice, energy providers, energy services providers, social landlords and third sector agencies. The value of including communities in partnership working was also highlighted, including individuals with experience of fuel poverty, and community-led projects.

4.8. The value of information sharing across agencies was also highlighted by respondents, particularly in relation to identification of those experiencing or at risk of fuel poverty. Some concerns were raised around the potential for forthcoming changes to data protection legislation to inhibit referrals and information sharing between agencies – including the extent to which a lack of clarity on new data protection requirements could lead to agencies being overly cautious.

Provision of advice and support

4.9. Respondents cited a range of projects as good practice examples of how national and local partners can work together to tackle fuel poverty. Several of these respondents emphasised the importance of projects being tailored to meet local needs, but some common themes were identified to inform on-going partnership working:

  • Around 1 in 8 respondents who answered the question identified a need for more intensive, face-to-face support to address the range of factors that can contribute to fuel poverty. This included reference to developing tailored responses for households with more complex needs or living circumstances, supporting behaviour change, and providing face-to-face advocacy. Several respondents saw this as an area where local agencies can add significant value through their local knowledge, the development of trust between local agencies and communities, and their capacity to provide more intensive support over a period of time. Some respondents saw a need for stronger recognition of the role played by local partners in this area.
  • Supporting fuel poverty referrals across a wider range of workers through training and awareness raising. This included, for example, integration of fuel poverty within training and development across health services, and providing a single referral point for agencies or workers who may have limited knowledge of the fuel poverty agenda. A role for national partners, through sharing of information and training with local agencies was also suggested.
  • Around 1 in 7 respondents who answered the question identified establishing partnerships with a collective responsibility for identifying and reaching those experiencing or at risk of fuel poverty, as a means of establishing common strategic objectives, coordinating activity and sharing practice. Respondents cited several existing partnerships as good practice examples including: North Ayrshire’s Local Energy Advice Forum ( LEAF); the Falkirk Fuel Forum; the Outer Hebrides Fuel Poverty Group and the Outer Hebrides Energy Efficiency Group; Argyll and Bute Advice Network; and Money Skills Argyll,
  • While there has been effective partnership working around building improvements to mitigate fuel poverty, more is needed at a national and local level to address other causal factors. This included issues such as benefits and income maximisation, debt advice, housing and tenancy support, energy switching, energy efficiency and consumer rights.

4.10. Other suggestions, made by only one or a small number of respondents, included:

  • Developing a network of locally-based ‘Energycarer’ services.
  • Expanding partnerships and services to areas where there is a gap in provision, such as fuel billing.
  • Local networks of approved service providers.
  • Linking the identification of fuel poor households and access to funding, to avoid the requirement for a separate funding application.
  • Delivering economies of scale for example through collective switching.
  • Co-location of services.

Identifying needs

4.11. Identifying those experiencing or at risk of fuel poverty was highlighted by a small number of respondents as an area where national and local partners can work better together. Respondents sometimes referred to current approaches to identifying fuel poverty needs as potential good practice examples. Reference was also made to the Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategy ( LHEES) as having potential to support the identification and targeting of properties with poor energy efficiency, and where there is potential for low carbon heat.

4.12. Local authorities and other local agencies were seen as having a key role to play in identifying fuel poverty needs, through local knowledge and service data. Respondents also referred to a need for sharing of information and resources across health services, third sector organisations, energy providers and local delivery organisations.

4.13. Respondents also highlighted specific issues around identifying those experiencing or at risk of fuel poverty in remote rural and island communities. Local agencies and community-led projects were seen as best placed to identify and respond to these needs. Other groups identified as potential priorities in terms of identifying those experiencing or at risk of fuel poverty included households using prepayment meters; people with mental health needs; people with cardiovascular and respiratory conditions; those with physical disabilities; those for whom English is not their first language; and BME households. Several respondents also saw a need to access households who do not participate in existing schemes, including for example those with more complex circumstances.

4.14. It was suggested that the proposed fuel poverty definition may require more effective data gathering and sharing to collate the range of information required to identify those in fuel poverty. The importance of consistency in how the fuel poverty definition is applied was also highlighted, in terms of identifying those at risk of fuel poverty across Scotland.

Resourcing

4.15. The importance of adequate resourcing was highlighted previously in terms of enabling national and local partners working better together to address fuel poverty, but respondents also raised a number of more specific points around resourcing. A number of respondents suggested approaches to ensure that partners contribute adequate resources to enable local partnerships to identify and respond to fuel poverty. This included suggestions that contributions are made compulsory, and that local authority funding for fuel poverty is ring-fenced. Respondents also referred to a number of specific sectors or organisations where resource constraints and high workloads were seen as potential barriers to effective partnership working. It was suggested that additional resources - in terms of funding and skills - are required to enable more effective responses to fuel poverty, particularly for local authorities, health and social care services and community planning partnerships.

4.16. Longer-term funding was highlighted as a significant factor in enabling more effective partnership working by around 1 in 10 respondents who answered the question. Several respondents referred to the resources being spent by local partners in securing and maintaining funding, seeing this as a distraction from delivery of services. These respondents highlighted the extent to which longer-term funding would provide greater confidence and stability for services. More broadly, a number of respondents saw a need for more flexible and less bureaucratic approaches to funding.

4.17. Other points, made by only very small numbers of respondents included:

  • That more funding options are needed to remove financial barriers for households at risk of fuel poverty – for example the upfront costs of improving the energy performance of homes.
  • Questioning whether social landlords will be permitted to access HEEPS and/or SEEP funding, in the context of a substantial number of those at risk of fuel poverty living in the social rented sector.

Supporting and enabling partnerships

4.18. Some respondents saw a need for the Scottish Government to provide a leadership role to ensure national and local partners have a common direction. This included suggestions for partnership working between the Scottish Government and partners at a national level, and for the placing of a requirement on national partners to work in partnership with local agencies. However, others wished to see coordination of fuel poverty programmes devolved to local authorities.

4.19. Reference was made to the positioning of fuel poverty in relation to other policies. This included concerns that positioning fuel poverty under the SEEP remit does not help to emphasise fuel poverty as a health and welfare issue, and potentially impedes work to address fuel poverty amongst vulnerable households. A need for clarity as to how fuel poverty aligns with other relevant policies, and for a consistent priority to be assigned to fuel poverty across policy areas was also suggested.

4.20. Respondents also saw a need for clear guidance for national and local partners to support more effective partnership working. This included specific reference to guidance ensuring partners have a shared understanding of fuel poverty policy objectives, providing clarity on the relative roles of national and local partners, and enabling effective sharing of information and resources across partners (particularly in the context of data protection obligations). Guidance to support monitoring and evaluation, including identification of specific targets, was also recommended.

Coordination of activity and sharing of practice

4.21. In addition to providing strategic direction and guidance, a number of respondents wished to see more pro-active national coordination of activity in relation to fuel poverty, to ensure a coherent approach across the country and to identify any gaps in provision. Some respondents wished to see a new independent body to provide this coordinating role, potentially aligned with a quality assurance role. This included suggestions for a centralised website or hub providing advice and information, and centralised collation of data on outcomes being delivered by national and local partners. Several respondents saw a role for HES here, including a perceived need for better promotion of HES as the first point of contact for those experiencing or at risk of fuel poverty.

4.22. Around 1 in 10 of respondents who answered the question also saw a role for more effective sharing of good practice to support partnership working, including suggestions that the Scottish Government should do more to support this. Specific suggestions included: the establishment of an independent body to coordinate activity and share practice; a national platform for sharing of good practice; a survey of existing practice; learning exchanges; and collation of case studies as illustrations of effective approaches.

4.23. The need for a stronger evidence base, to assist partners in identifying those experiencing or at risk of fuel poverty and to develop a better understanding of the factors that prevent households from engaging with existing approaches was also identified.

4.24. As has been noted above, adequate resourcing was seen as a significant factor in enabling better partnership working. This was seen as a particular issue in the context of constraints on local authority funding, and suggestions as to the best way forward included:

  • Scottish Government providing dedicated funding to support better and more widespread partnership working.
  • Scottish Government committing to longer-term funding of services.
  • Making partnership working a condition of grant funding to services.

Question 6 - What can local partners do to contribute to meeting national aims of effectively and sustainably tackling fuel poverty? This might include sharing best practice or developing strategic approaches.

4.25. A total of 72 respondents commented at Question 6. A breakdown of the number of comments received by respondent type is set out in Table 7 below.

Table 7: Number of comments by respondent type

Type of respondent Number of comments
Organisations:
Community or Tenant Group or Federation 4
Energy Company 3
Health and Social Care 5
Housing Association 7
Housing Body or Group 1
Inter-agency Group or Partnership 4
Local Authority 20
Other 6
Research Group 1
Third Sector 14
Organisations 65
Individuals 7
All respondents 72

4.26. The potential for local partners to develop more strategic approaches to tackling fuel poverty was referenced by around 1 in 4 of respondents who answered the question. Respondents emphasised the value of better partnership working to maximise the impact of local partners’ activity, and often reiterated points discussed at Question 5. This included particular reference to the role of local authorities, Community Planning Partnerships and Integrated Joint Boards in leading this work.

4.27. Ensuring there is a shared commitment across partners, and that fuel poverty has a clear place alongside partners’ competing priorities was also seen as important. This included specific reference to where fuel poverty fits within the wider strategic framework, including suggestions that Health & Social Care Strategic Plans should include formal recognition of fuel poverty as a priority. Alignment of local ( LHEES) and national ( SEEP) energy efficiency targets was also recommended in the context of enabling local partners to contribute to national aims as were:

  • Action planning with local partners and communities to develop a tailored approach to meet local needs, and to maximise partners’ contribution.
  • Supporting trusted community organisations and other bodies to deliver local projects for those at risk of fuel poverty.

4.28. Sharing of good practice was also highlighted as significant in enabling local partners to maximise their delivery against national aims. This included reference to a number of existing mechanisms for sharing of practice, including:

  • A mechanism to enable collation and sharing of good practice and information on the effectiveness of specific energy efficiency and fuel poverty measures across local authority areas, including suggestions for an online hub.
  • Local forums to provide a basis for sharing effective approaches.
  • Sharing of feedback from households experiencing fuel poverty on their experience of specific approaches and measures.

4.29. Sharing of good practice was also highlighted as particularly valuable for remote rural and island communities, which were seen as presenting significant challenges to local partners.

4.30. The value of learning from national programmes such as Keep Well and Making Every Contact Count, published papers on the effectiveness of approaches to address fuel poverty, and reports from relevant professional bodies was also highlighted.

4.31. As also noted in relation to Question 5, respondents saw a clear role for local partners in identifying those experiencing or at risk of fuel poverty and providing effective signposting and referral to local or national partners. This included a specific focus on the extent to which partners can draw on local knowledge to identify those at risk of fuel poverty and/or properties that might benefit from energy efficiency improvements. Front-line staff were seen as having a significant role to play in the identification of potentially vulnerable households.

4.32. Respondents also saw scope for local partners to help to develop a more ‘granular’ understanding of available data on fuel poverty to inform their approaches. A range of information sources potentially available through local partners was highlighted by respondents, including housing stock data, household income profiles, fuel spend and health information (including LIST and SPIRE data). Respondents also noted potential for local partners to draw on information held by energy suppliers and others with data on the energy efficiency of homes.

4.33. A number of specific groups were referenced by respondents as potential priorities in terms of identifying fuel poverty needs. This included suggestions that local, low income households living in social rented properties may not receive support from HES or HEEPS.

4.34. Respondents also referred to a broad range of practical approaches that could enable local partners to contribute to meeting national aims. Suggestions included, most frequently:

  • Recognising the importance of local partners’ knowledge of local circumstances, and the extent to which this can support engagement with households who may be less willing to take up national partners’ services.
  • Recognising the impact of face-to-face approaches to develop tailored responses to more complex circumstances and needs, for example in providing advocacy services for households experiencing fuel poverty. This included specific suggestions for more consistent availability of face-to-face options through HEEPS: ABS across local authority areas.
  • Helping to reduce households’ energy costs, for example through collective bargaining, community energy generation, and low carbon and low cost sustainable energy solutions.

4.35. Other suggestions, each made by a very small number of respondents, included:

  • A focus on the full range of factors that can contribute to fuel poverty, including income maximisation, determinants of health, and supporting behavioural change.
  • Minimising the number of different service providers, and service contacts required with a household to deliver an intervention or integrating fuel poverty consultations as part of how front-line staff engage with households, across sectors including health and housing.
  • Co-location of services as a means of strengthening information sharing and referral arrangements.
  • Identifying the key points in people’s lives where they are vulnerable to fuel poverty (such as changes of ownership or occupancy, changes to the fabric of homes) and targeting support around these.
  • Placing a stronger emphasis on energy efficiency and shared renewable energy production in development of social housing.

4.36. Also consistent with comments at Question 5, resourcing was highlighted as a significant issue in enabling more strategic approaches, ensuring identification of needs, and in supporting effective and sustainable approaches to tackling fuel poverty. In particular, the extent of resourcing constraints on local partners was highlighted by respondents, including examples of partners struggling to meet existing service demand. Several respondents saw a need for additional funding to support local partners to more effectively contribute to national aims. In this context, several respondents referred to the value of joint working as a means of bringing together and maximising the impact of partners’ limited resources. This included reference to Integrated Joint Boards and local authorities.

4.37. Respondents also referred to the value of a dedicated paid worker to support local volunteer activity in identifying and responding to fuel poverty but suggested that few local partners are willing or able to play or fund this role.

4.38. Continuity of funding was also highlighted as an issue, including calls for longer-term funding to provide local partners with greater stability, and to focus their resources on service delivery. The potential to link project funding with delivery of outcomes as a means of incentivising more effective partnership working was suggested.

Question 7 - How can SG support local delivery partners (e.g. third sector organisations and social enterprises) to measure their success?

4.39. A total of 74 respondents commented at Question 7. A breakdown of the number of comments received by respondent type is set out in Table 8 below.

Table 8: Number of comments by respondent type

Type of respondent Number of comments
Organisations:
Community or Tenant Group or Federation 4
Energy Company 3
Health and Social Care 5
Housing Association 8
Housing Body or Group 2
Inter-agency Group or Partnership 4
Local Authority 20
Other 5
Research Group 1
Third Sector 16
Organisations 68
Individuals 6
All respondents 74

4.40. Respondents suggested a number of ways in which the Scottish Government can support local partners through providing a framework within which partners can measure their impact. Around 1 in 5 of respondents who answered the question suggested that the Scottish Government should produce a reporting framework linked to the outcomes expected from partners, with content including guidance on methodology and indicators for local partners to use in measuring their impact. This was seen as a means of ensuring consistency of approach to measuring performance in the context of changes to the fuel poverty definition, offering potential for better benchmarking of services, and minimising duplication of work across partners.

4.41. Around 1 in 6 respondents who answered the question suggested that a standardised measurement/reporting tool, or potentially a centralised reporting ‘hub’, could further improve this reporting. Reference was made to existing monitoring approaches as offering a potential basis for a reporting framework and tools. Respondents also referred to Social Return on Investment measures as having a potential role in a reporting framework.

4.42. In addition to suggestions that the Scottish Government provides a framework for measurement of local partners’ success, some respondents wished to see the Scottish Government take a more proactive role by coordinating the collection of performance information. Respondents also saw potential for a central coordinating role to include sharing of good practice across local partners, with one respondent suggesting that a national scrutiny body could play a role in assessing performance data. Reference was again made to the value of reducing the administrative burden on local partners.

4.43. A number of respondents noted that local partners may benefit from additional training and other support to strengthen their work in tackling fuel poverty. This was most commonly related to providing partners with the skills required to ensure meaningful reporting of performance. However, a need for additional funding to local partners to support this, and potentially for funding awards to take account of monitoring and reporting requirements was also suggested. This was seen as particularly important for smaller partners who may lack the skills or capacity to develop and populate an effective monitoring system.

4.44. Respondents mentioned specific organisations as having a potential role to play in providing training and support to local partners, including some currently delivering fuel poverty training. It was suggested that cost can be a barrier to local partners accessing existing training provision.

4.45. A range of good practice points highlighted in relation to local partners’ measuring and reporting on their success included:

  • Local partners agreeing key targets and milestones at the outset of a project, and changes in reporting requirements during delivery being minimised.
  • Collecting qualitative information and feedback on the impacts delivered by partners, alongside quantitative measures.
  • That measurement of impacts should be meaningful to the wider public.
  • That measuring outcomes delivered for people with protected characteristics is of value.

4.46. It was also suggested both that local authority-level reporting of impacts has value as a means of identifying areas with higher success rates as potential examples of good practice, and that responsibility for assessment of impacts delivered by local partners should sit with a body or bodies without any vested interest in delivery of projects.

4.47. A small number of respondents raised concerns around the extent to which quantitative measures provide an accurate account of real world outcomes for households. This included reference to the impact of specific interventions being dependent on factors such as how measures are installed and used, and the extent to which the energy supplier provides good value.

4.48. Others noted that fuel poverty interventions can deliver wider benefits that may be missed by ‘simple’ quantitative measures, with examples including improved health and wellbeing, higher educational attainment, reduced CO2 emissions, and greater resilience to minimise the risk of falling back into fuel poverty. It was suggested that local partners would require additional resources and support to develop this kind of evidence base.

Question 8 - How can the Scottish Government best support local or community level organisations to accurately

a) measure;

b) report on; and

c) ensure quality of provision

of advice and support services and their outcomes?

4.49. A total of 66 respondents commented at Question 8a, 50 respondents at 8b and 55 at 8c. A breakdown of the number of comments received by respondent type is set out in Table 9 below.

Table 9: Number of comments by respondent type

Type of respondent Number of comments at 8a Number of comments at 8b Number of comments at 8c
Organisations:
Community or Tenant Group or Federation 4 2 3
Energy Company 2 1 1
Health and Social Care 5 4 4
Housing Association 7 6 7
Housing Body or Group
Inter-agency Group or Partnership 5 4 4
Local Authority 19 14 14
Other 5 2 3
Research Group 1 1 1
Third Sector 12 11 13
Organisations 60 45 50
Individuals 6 5 5
All respondents 66 50 55

4.50. Significant overlap was evident in the points raised across these three questions, and also with responses to Questions 5 and 7, and a number of respondents provided a single statement which addressed one or more of these questions. The analysis below has sought to specifically identify the points raised in relation to (a) measuring outcomes, (b) reporting on outcomes, and (c) ensuring quality of service provision.

Measuring outcomes

4.51. Reflecting points raised at Question 7, around 1 in 3 respondents who answered the question saw value in the Scottish Government seeking to inform and/or coordinate how community-level organisations measure their outcomes. Suggestions were primarily focused on developing a monitoring and evaluation framework with associated indicators and guidance for organisations to use in measuring their impacts. This was seen as:

  • Providing clarity to organisations on the outcomes to which they are expected to contribute.
  • Ensuring consistency of approach across Scotland.
  • Enabling benchmarking of services.

4.52. The extent of variation in information currently being collected by services was also noted.

4.53. Reference was also made to existing monitoring schemes and organisations that could have a role to play in developing consistent standards for measuring outcomes, including the Each Home Counts Review, and Citizens Advice Scotland’s report Facing Fuel Poverty.

4.54. Respondents also suggested a role for standard templates or reporting tools that can be made available for use by community-level organisations. A small number of respondents wished to see a national portal for tracking of outcomes delivered by local partners and community-level organisations, although it was recognised that this would require significant resources.

4.55. In addition to measuring outcomes, respondents also saw a role for a standard monitoring and evaluation framework in facilitating sharing of good practice across local organisations. This included suggestions for a dedicated Scottish Government website to share information and good practice examples.

4.56. Around 1 in 7 respondents who answered the question identified a need for additional training and support to enable community level organisations to measure their impacts – again consistent with points raised at Question 7. This reflected some concerns that organisations do not have the skills or capacity to collate the data required to measure impacts in addition to ongoing service delivery. In terms of delivering training and support, suggestions included: web-based training; a role for national bodies such as HES and Energy Action Scotland ( EAS) in providing training and support; linking community organisations with academic partners; and peer review.

4.57. Concerns regarding the extent to which community-level organisations have the skills and resources to measure their outcomes were also linked to suggestions that additional resources will be required to enable organisations to meet these requirements. This included reference to a need for additional funding, and a need for longer-term funding. Respondents also saw value in monitoring and reporting being made a requirement of funding, although it was suggested that funding awards should take account of the additional resources required to support this.

4.58. Around 1 in 6 respondents who answered the question highlighted good practice points for community-level organisations measuring their outcomes. These were most commonly around ensuring the monitoring framework and associated indicators are as simple as possible, have a clear focus on the key targets to which community-level organisations are expected to contribute, and do not place a disproportionate burden on organisations. In this context, reference was made to the value of co-producing a standard approach to measuring outcomes with organisations, to ensure this is meaningful and sustainable.

4.59. Several respondents referred to the value of making best use of currently available data - including information already collected through funding of organisations - and focusing measurement of outcomes on filling significant gaps in available data. Respondents also suggested that the approach should recognise useful contributions across the full breadth of partners involved and contributions made, including, for example, wider health and social benefits. This included specifically for those supporting remote rural or island communities. The value of including qualitative and quantitative measures, and of identifying longer-term impacts, was also highlighted.

4.60. Other suggestions included:

  • A tool created to allow the fuel poor to be identified could be developed further to allow calculation of the likely effect of individual interventions on changes in fuel poverty levels.
  • There should be more detailed assessment of outcomes such as comfort levels attained, household satisfaction and ‘real world’ energy costs for all the most vulnerable households, and a sample of other households. Use of participatory action research, designed and developed by people with lived experience of fuel poverty, was recommended as a good way to support services to monitor and evaluate the service they provide.
  • Community-level organisations should receive feedback from the Scottish Government on the outcomes identified through monitoring and reporting.
  • The potential for fuel poverty outcome measures to conflict with climate change objectives should be recognised.
  • An assessment of equalities impacts should be included in monitoring of community-level organisations.

Reporting on outcomes

4.61. Around 1 in 7 of those who answered the question wished to see the Scottish Government produce a standard reporting framework, including specification of the key indicators to be reported. This was seen as offering particular value in terms of ensuring clarity and consistency in what organisations report, enabling aggregation of evidence to a regional and national level, supporting effective benchmarking of services, and minimising duplication of work across organisations.

4.62. In terms of implementing a framework, around 1 in7 of respondents who answered the question referred to use of standard reporting templates or tools or a web-based reporting facility available to all local delivery organisations. Respondents also noted the importance of reporting that is meaningful to the wider public, including support for the use of case studies to illustrate impacts delivered by community-level organisations. It was also suggested that reporting should be encouraged to include interventions which have not delivered the anticipated outcomes.

4.63. Several respondents noted that any standard reporting approach should be proportionate to the skills and resources available to community-level organisations. This included, for example, the number of indicators and frequency of reporting intervals, and reference to making best use of existing reporting through funding bodies. Comments reflected concerns regarding the extent to which organisations would require additional training and other support to meet reporting requirements, particularly those with lower staff numbers. In this context, respondents noted that the Scottish Government funds HES to support local organisations in reporting on their outcomes. Some suggested that additional funding may be required, direct to organisations, to support effective reporting.

Ensuring quality of advice and support services

4.64. Continuity of funding for community-level and other local organisations was one of the most commonly raised issues, identified by around 1 in 6 respondents who answered the question. These respondents suggested that longer-term and more sustainable funding was necessary to enable organisations to provide the consistency of advice and support required to achieve positive outcomes. This included suggestions that time is required for organisations to establish themselves with communities, to establish effective partnerships, and to develop and share good practice. Reference was also made to research indicating that the short-term nature of some schemes can limit their effectiveness. Three to five-year funding periods were suggested here, including reference to the affordable housing programme as a potential model. It was also recommended that funding is linked to a requirement to measure and report on delivery of outcomes.

4.65. Linked to a perceived need for longer-term funding of community-level organisations, respondents also wished to see greater recognition of the value provided by these locally-based approaches. This included support for the role of face-to-face advocacy and support delivered by these organisations. The level of trust with local communities, extent of local knowledge and close links with other local partners were highlighted as key benefits for these organisations. Some suggested these organisations can play a particularly significant role for marginalised, vulnerable and ‘hard to reach’ households, and in remote rural and island communities.

4.66. Around 1 in of 6 respondents who answered the question noted the role of effective training and professional development in ensuring the quality of services provided by community-level organisations. Some suggested that a minimum level of training or accreditation should be agreed for these organisations, including reference to professional bodies, standards and national partners that could have a role to play in ensuring quality of service. Specific references included EAS, the Climate Challenge Fund’s Capacity Building Programme, Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers, HES, a requirement for social landlords to provide qualified energy advisors, and the City & Guilds Energy Awareness qualification.

4.67. In addition to training and development, respondents saw a role for partnership working with local authorities, health and social care services, and national partners in ensuring quality of services. This included sharing of good practice examples, sharing of resources, developing local intelligence to improve the effectiveness of services, and effective referral systems. These respondents also expressed broader support for the role of robust evidence to inform delivery of services by community-level organisations.

4.68. The Scottish Government providing a clear strategic direction was also identified as an important element in ensuring the quality of services, by identifying the key outcomes to which organisations are expected to contribute, and by supporting the robust monitoring and reporting of delivery of those outcomes.

Question 9 - How can the one-stop-shop approach be enhanced for the benefit of HES clients; and in particular,

a) Are there any improvements that you think can be made to the HES service to further enable it to best reach the most vulnerable to fuel poverty client groups?

4.69. A total of 67 respondents commented at Question 9 and 57 at 9a. A breakdown of the number of comments received by respondent type is set out in Table 10 below.

Table 10: Number of comments by respondent type

Type of respondent Number of comments at 9 Number of comments at 9a
Organisations:
Community or Tenant Group or Federation 4 2
Energy Company 3 2
Health and Social Care 5 4
Housing Association 7 7
Housing Body or Group 1
Inter-agency Group or Partnership 4 3
Local Authority 19 16
Other 6 4
Research Group 1 1
Third Sector 11 12
Organisations 61 51
Individuals 6 6
All respondents 67 57

4.70. As at Question 8, there was significant overlap in the points raised in relation to Questions 9 and 9a, with a number of respondents providing a single statement which addressed one or both of these questions. The analysis has sought to identify the points raised in relation to enable HES to better reach vulnerable client groups, separately from broader points on enhancement of the HES approach.

Enhancing the HES one-stop-shop approach

4.71. A number of respondents noted the effectiveness of the HES one-stop-shop approach, particularly in terms of the number and range of households accessing the service. This included reference to the experience of local partners and other organisations in working with HES.

4.72. However, most of those providing comment at Question 9 suggested ways in which the service currently offered by HES could be expanded or enhanced. The key points are summarised below.

4.73. Closer working with local partners and community-level organisations was suggested by around 1 in 5 of respondents who answered the question as a means of extending the range and quality of service available to HES clients and enabling more effective referrals to HES from local services. This was linked to comments highlighting the value of locally based services, with strategic direction provided by local partnerships, in tailoring their approach to meet local needs. These services were also seen as establishing trust with communities and having greater scope to provide the ongoing bespoke support required to achieve behavioural change, and as particularly valuable in responding to more complex needs and circumstances.

4.74. Around 1 in 6 respondents who answered the question linked support for closer working with local organisations to wider support for HES clients having access to more in-person support provided in, and tailored to, local communities. This approach was seen as necessary to achieve a significant improvement in take up of fuel poverty services, particularly for those with more complex needs and those living in property types in which it is more difficult to install energy efficiency measures. The ‘Energycarer’ service model was noted as an example of this kind of approach.

4.75. A role for HES in providing high quality telephone and online services, and in coordinating in-person services provided by local organisations was suggested, and also that HES could further develop engagement with local organisations as a means of providing advice and information to support staff. Some noted that HES provides a level of in-person service but saw a need for this to be expanded, potentially through community-based events/workshops and home visits, and with a particular focus on areas with limited locally-based provision.

4.76. Several respondents noted that more intensive, in-person support requires appropriately trained staff or volunteers and is significantly more resource-intensive than telephone or web-based approaches. The need for additional funding to HES and/or locally based organisations to support this, and also to expand the reach of other national and local services was suggested by around 1 in 8 respondents who answered the question.

4.77. In addition to delivery of services, respondents also saw potential for HES to work more closely with partners to identify households experiencing or at risk of fuel poverty. This included specific reference to health and social care services, Warmer Homes Scotland and HEEPS: ABS contractors as having an important role in identifying potential need for HES services. Community level organisations were also seen as an important referral route for digitally excluded households, or those more likely to approach services in person. Respondents also saw a need for improving awareness of referral processes to strengthen links with these organisations, potentially building on existing partnership working and promotion of the online referral portal to achieve this. Improving awareness of HES across the population more widely was also suggested as a means of improving take-up.

4.78. In addition to the above points, respondents also made a number of more specific suggestions for extension or modification of the one-stop-shop approach:

  • Providing a single point of contact to support households with more complex needs through the process of assessing needs and delivering interventions.
  • Making a web-based version of the Home Energy Check available to partner agencies, for example for completion during home visits.
  • Developing a pack of information and advice on energy efficiency, potentially including promotion of smart metering.
  • Prioritising affordable warmth visits.
  • Better use of Home Analytics data to identify potential need for services.
  • Separating delivery of the fuel poverty service from transport, water use and other advice services.
  • Ensuring staff have specific training to enable them to meet the needs of people with protected characteristics.
  • Assess the full ‘customer journey’ for households using HES services, and in particular the extent to which homeowners take forward HES advice.
  • Including a comprehensive tariff and switching advice service as part of the one-stop-shop approach.
  • Roll out of the ‘ HES Homecare’ pilot.
  • Working to align the roll out of smart meters with the planned roll out of SEEP.

Enabling HES to reach those most vulnerable to fuel poverty

4.79. A number of those commenting on the one-stop-shop approach indicated that the points highlighted above in relation to HES’s overall approach, would also help to better reach vulnerable households. The key approaches identified as most relevant to more vulnerable households were:

  • More use of outreach and in-person approaches, including use of the local organisations that vulnerable households are more likely to choose to engage with as a means of identifying needs and/or providing fuel poverty services. This included reference to potential for co-location with other services. These approaches were suggested by around 1 in 3 respondents who answered the question. Respondents referred specifically to local authorities, health and social care services (including GP surgeries), social landlords, Citizens Advice Scotland and the Social Security Agency.
  • More use of in-home and other face-to-face approaches, as a means of providing the bespoke service required by households with more complex needs and living circumstances, was suggested by around 1 in 4 of those who answered the question. This included suggestions that the most vulnerable households are less likely than others to engage with telephone-based services – and reports of vulnerable households having been discouraged by their initial call to HES. Several respondents noted that additional resourcing is needed to support these approaches to better reach vulnerable households – through HES or local organisations.
  • Raising awareness of the services provided by HES across local organisations and the wider public. This included suggestions for a national advertising campaign, and promotion through local authorities.
  • Targeting locations and population groups most vulnerable to fuel poverty, and/or with more limited access to HES services. This included specific mention of those: with a health condition or disability; with mental health needs; affected by welfare reform; living in remote rural and island communities; with protected characteristics; living in digitally excluded households; and others who may be less confident using telephone-based services.
  • Establishing data sharing agreements with key partners to support a more coordinated identification and response to fuel poverty.

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