3. Virtual Agency and Transition Planning
While the future dedicated Agency will become the cornerstone of heat decarbonisation delivery in Scotland in due course, we recognise the real urgency in our need to act now to tackle the challenge of transformational change in how we heat our homes and buildings. The targets we have set do not allow us time to delay the ramping up of delivery.
This is why we have committed to establish a virtual Agency by September 2022, which will be the first milestone in the transition process. Working alongside our key delivery partners, the plan is to set a transition route map, that will consider how to build on, improve and co-ordinate existing – and future – advice and delivery programmes, and what needs to happen to scale up to deliver within a single dedicated body by September 2025.
This reflects a phased approach to the creation of the new Agency.
3.1. Strategic Purpose and Functions
It is intended that the virtual Agency will be tasked with two strategic purposes:
- To lead strategic oversight and co-ordination of on-going energy efficiency and heat retrofit delivery programmes pan-Scotland; and
- To lead a set of development work-streams to inform the design and set up of the dedicated Agency, in respect of key functions and governance.
The following table sets out in more detail what types of specific functions the virtual Agency would likely need to lead on up to 2025 – some of these may begin from September 2022; others may develop over the transition period.
- Early stage consumer engagement campaigns and messaging – informed by the upcoming Public Engagement Strategy currently under development, as committed to within the Heat in Buildings Strategy.
- Coordination of existing delivery programmes across domestic and non-domestic landscapes, in line with pipeline developments set out in the Heat in Buildings Strategy.
- Establish a "brand" for the Agency under which new delivery and support programmes can be launched, and existing intervention mechanisms will transition to, as appropriate, to establish wider consistency and coherence across the delivery landscape.
- Public Engagement Strategy: Implementation Plan, in line with the framework and principles to be set out in the new Public Engagement Strategy, committed to under the Heat in Buildings Strategy.
- Establish a Centre of Expertise – providing dedicated resource, expertise and coordination to government and others to support and enable an accelerated pace and scale of regional and local heat transitions. There may also be value in expertise being expanded to include: support to local authorities in Local Heat & Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES) development and/or roll out; and support to those with an interest in exploring "local public energy company" models.
- Future Delivery Programmes Scoping & Implementation Plan – developing a suite of programmes to meet the challenge of transformational change. The first stage of this would be to conduct a full landscape review, and map consumer journeys. The virtual Agency would be tasked with working to stakeholders to deliver this and providing advice to Ministers on next steps.
- Overarching Heat in Buildings Decarbonisation Delivery Plan for Scotland – in line with its leadership and coordination role, the virtual Agency would be responsible for developing the delivery blueprint for the heat decarbonisation agenda in Scotland, to be inherited by the dedicated Agency.
17) Other than those listed, are there any other specific functions that you think the virtual Agency should be tasked with delivery ahead of the dedicated Agency, and why? If you have any supporting evidence that demonstrates the potential added value – or make clear the current gap in delivery – of such a function pre-regulations, please provide.
3.2. Structure, Governance and the Transition Pathway
In line with timescales to launch by September 2022 at the latest, the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy & Transport informed the Scottish Parliament's Net Zero, Energy & Transport Committee on 14 September that the virtual Agency would operate in-house to the Scottish Government to begin with.
Establishing the virtual Agency first as a discrete delivery vehicle within the Scottish Government will ensure that there is minimal disruption to the continuing delivery of current energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation programmes. This is important as we cannot risk any gap developing in the on-going roll out of the broader Heat in Buildings agenda, and access to support for early movers and zero emissions heating adopters. This approach will also create flexibility in design of the virtual Agency, allowing us to future proof it to be able to change and evolve in structure, governance and capacity during the transition period up to 2025 as required.
To ensure that the virtual Agency has both credibility within the wider stakeholder landscape and the necessary decision making authority and capability to begin to transition delivery, we propose setting up a shadow independent Strategic Partnership Board to help oversee its work.
Further details on how the virtual Agency will act as the initial stepping stone in a process of transition to the dedicated Agency will be set out in due course.
18) Do you have any examples, or insights based on experience, that demonstrate the potential added value of an "interim" delivery body in advance of a dedicated public body, and how this can best be achieved?
19) Do you have any examples, or insights based on experience, of effective change management practices relating to a public sector initiative that required a shift in the existing national and/or local delivery landscape, managed over time? What lessons can be learnt?
20) What do you see as the key steps, and/or considerations that will need to be reflected in the transition Route Map, and why?
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