Chapter 5 Opportunities and Challenges
5.1The Equity Loan Pilot will operate until March 2022 whilst gathering evidence and consideration of the future of the Scheme is undertaken. The pilot has demonstrated some of the challenges of operating such a scheme, such as supporting the applicant through the legal and installation processes. In considering the potential for nationwide expansion, we must also consider any challenges to delivery that the potential scaling up will pose as well as opportunities for collaboration and efficient delivery.
5.2 There is a long time-frame for the application journey, notably the legal element of the process. The necessary complexity of the legal process due to the need for specific documents / consents from third parties, such as the Scottish Land Register and mortgage lenders can cause anxiety and concern to homeowners. Guidance has been updated to further explain the process followed, the requirements of the applicant's solicitor and examples of where the most likely delays can occur.
5.3 The pilot has enabled homeowners to participate when their property forms part of a mixed tenure block that a local housing association or local authority are refurbishing. However, there have been challenges aligning the Equity Loan application journey with the refurbishment project timelines. Consideration is being given to developing a process which can be applied to such applications to streamline communications and minimise delays. The expansion of the pilot also provides opportunities to increase partnership work with local authorities and housing associations and to support the delivery of Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES).
5.4 The Equity Loan Pilot has benefitted from a robust support service to ensure applicants, including those who may have vulnerabilities, are supported through all elements of the application process as well as the installation of the recommended measures once the loan has been approved. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this service has been crucial to the success of the pilot and has been valued by homeowners, particularly through the impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
5.5 The cost of running the support service during the pilot has been funded by the Scottish Government, however consideration must be given to affordability in light of the proposed expansion, including options to include a proportion of these costs within the loan or to offer differing levels of support with the application journey through an online toolkit including guidance videos on how to approach each section of the application journey and a phone line.
10. The expansion of the pilot could provide a greater opportunity for eligible homeowners to participate in scheduled refurbishment works being undertaken by local housing associations and local authorities. Do you have suggestions on how best to achieve such a working partnership? Please explain your position.
11. Do you have any suggestions on how to ensure delivery of the scheme is efficient and robust, including the legal process and customer support service whilst ensuring value for money? Please explain your answer.
12. Please provide your views on any challenges and/or opportunities offered by the potential expansion of the pilot.