2. The HES Homecare pilot
The aim of the pilot was to test the Energycarer approach to tackling rural fuel poverty.
The pilot was originally due to run for one year and deliver the HES Homecare service in two rural areas: Annandale and Eskdale, Dumfries and Galloway (South West Scotland); and Moray East (North East Scotland). The selection of these delivery areas was based on their rural population and high incidence of fuel poverty, along with effective links to local networks, and the presence of local Care and Repair teams. A small number of households with a health need located in other areas received support at the request of Scottish Government. The service was originally due to run for one year from March 2017 to March 2018, and reach 220 households. The pilot was extended to the 30th June 2018, and again to the 31st March 2019. By November 2018 approximately 150 households had been engaged through the service - see Table 1 for the pilot and referral timeline. The pilot is being delivered by Home Energy Scotland. All of the organisations involved in the delivery of the HES Homecare pilot are detailed in Appendix 1. The label 'HES Homecare' was chosen for the pilot in order to build on the HES network's well-known identity and brand values of impartiality and trust.
Table 1: Timeline of pilot activity, households visited and measures installed.
Measures installed using HES Homecare intervention fund
First clients visited; primarily identified by HES from previous contacts
Commissioning of heating and insulation works commenced
Original pilot end date
117 households received one or more visits
18 jobs completed or cancelled;
3 jobs referred in 2017 still to be completed
Revised project end date
The HES Homecare service is delivered by a team of three: one central coordinator, and two Energycarer staff roles within the HES teams that cover the selected areas. The Energycarer roles were filled by existing HES staff who were conducting outreach work, for example as Home Renewables Advisors or Community Liaison Officers (CLOs). The CLO service is an existing scheme run by HES, which supports people in fuel poverty. The CLO service usually comprises an initial phone call followed by a home visit. During the home visit the householder's needs are assessed, advice is provided, and referrals are made to relevant organisations for financial or retrofitting support. For the HES Homecare pilot, the two Energycarer staff members acted as case workers providing individually tailored solutions to clients with the aim of delivering affordable warmth. The Energycarer service was informed by an existing project in Highlands and Islands, and the Energycarers working on the HES Homecare pilot were trained through shadowing those involved in an existing project. The Energycarer approach is targeted at acutely vulnerable householders who are likely to require more than one face-to-face visit in order to pursue additional funds or energy saving improvements.
Recipients of the service were identified through the HES team making internal referrals to the Energycarer specialists from within their network of customers, alongside the promotion of the new service among local partners including the NHS, social services, local housing networks, and advice providers. The HES portal was used and a postage-paid referral card was developed to allow referrals to be made and passed to HES Homecare for support. Training was provided for potential referrers (including HES and NHS staff) to support the Energycarers in identifying those who may be at risk of fuel poverty.
When a householder is identified for HES Homecare support they will be contacted by a member of the HES Homecare team, and an initial visit will be arranged. Typically, clients received three or four visits from the Energycarers, but the highest number of recorded visits at the time of this report was 12. The HES Homecare team clarified that during the initial visit the Energycarers "assess [client's] needs, their home, looks for insulation measures or heating improvements that could be installed, assesses the householder's ability to pay for measures…see whether they qualify for Warmer Homes Scotland". If eligible for Warmer Homes Scotland then the HES Homecare client will get referred for support. If they don't qualify or already receive support through Warmer Homes Scotland, or appropriate improvements aren't available through this scheme, then for physical works, they will be referred to Warmworks, Care and Repair Moray, or Care and Repair Dumfries and Galloway depending on which is most appropriate. These organisations are contracted through the HES Homecare Intervention Fund budget, which was initially set at approximately £140,000. Following review in November 2017, the Intervention Fund budget was reduced to £105,000; by January 2018 this revised budget had been surpassed - demonstrating challenges with predicting and allocating spend for projects of this nature. The amount of intervention funding used for the pilot is detailed in Table 2. An Advisory Group End Year 1 review of guidelines for this Intervention Fund allocation concluded that:
- The guidelines work well.
- A small enabling fund of up to £500, combined with hand-holding, can make the difference between a Warmer Homes Scotland customer cancelling and installing heating.
- A small repair grant of £500 - £2000, combined with hand-holding, can put right a leak or fault that has huge impact.
- £5,500 pays for central heating or insulation.
- £10,000 was exceeded only where solid wall insulation or extensive repairs were required. £10,000 could be exceeded by a combination of heating and repairs.
Table 2: The amount of Intervention fund used; figures correct at May 2018. Table replicated from HES Homecare Live Learning document
|Installer/managing agent||Average cost||Number of homes|
|Warmworks - excluding any Warmer Homes Scotland enabling works||£5,458||16 homes |
3 homes > £10k
|Warmworks - Warmer Homes Scotland enabling works||£480||6 homes, plus one at £2k|
|Care and Repair Moray||£1,733||8 homes|
|Care and Repair Dumfries and Galloway||£823||9 homes|
Details of Warmer Homes Scotland, Warmworks and Care and Repair are all provided in Appendix 1. The support provided through HES Homecare is on-going and can result in a long duration of client engagement. At interview, a member of the HES Homecare team noted that they've "got householders who became a HES Homecare client in August, September 2017, whose cases are just about wrapping up now in October, November, 2018". Energycarer's time would also be spent travelling between clients, and managing casework and installations.