This report presents an evaluation of the HES Homecare pilot, which aimed to test the Energycarer approach to tackling rural fuel poverty in two rural areas: Anandale & Eskdale (South West Scotland) and Moray East (North East Scotland). The Energycarer approach seeks to provide support in accessing energy retrofitting opportunities and funding for vulnerable rural fuel poor households who may require multiple points of contact and face-to-face visits, rather than single phone calls offered through traditional services. This evaluation has been conducted by the University of Edinburgh; an additional Live Learning document which includes lessons on the delivery of the pilot has been completed by the HES Homecare team.
The HES Homecare pilot has been evaluated through a social survey and internal temperature monitoring with households receiving the service and a control group receiving a standard HES Community Liaison Officer service. The evaluation also included interviews with the HES Homecare team, a series of case studies and a live learning document compiled by the HES Homecare team. The social survey and internal temperature monitoring did not reach the number of participants required for statistical analysis, which means that the findings from this aspect of the evaluation do not form a robust basis for policy development. However, the pilot indicates that a more systematic strategy, including support for public health and social care services operating in liaison with neighbourhood and community organisations is needed. The findings contribute to a series of lessons learned for tackling rural fuel poverty in the future:
Lessons for delivering a service to tackle rural fuel poverty:
- Longer timeframes are required to establish the organisational structure and relationships with partner organisations in schemes of this type.
- An area-based approach to identifying vulnerable people and subsequent upgrade of buildings and heating is likely to be required. Use and resource local community organisations and networks to identify vulnerable people. Individual Energycarers juggling this work alongside delivering the service may have had an impact on its overall reach.
- A single finance mechanism which incorporates a range of physical measures (including heating, insulation and glazing) alongside remedial works (to tackle damp, condensation and mould) is required.
- The individual case approach applied through HES Homecare is resource intensive; work needs to be done in order to develop a stronger area-based approach and utilise existing local networks and services more efficiently for the coordination of an area-based strategy.
Lessons for future evaluation of pilot schemes:
- Social evaluation tools need to be developed further. For the vulnerable group in this pilot, this includes a more straightforward and shorter survey, along with trained interviewers to support with data collection.
- Opportunities should be explored for internal temperature monitoring equipment that does not require repeated visits to collect information, particularly when working with vulnerable groups. Smart metering might support with this type of monitoring in the future.