Home Energy Efficiency Equity Loan pilot - call for evidence on potential national rollout: analysis of responses
Independent analysis of the responses to the call for evidence on the potential to develop an Equity Loan Scheme as part of the suite of support schemes for the decarbonisation of Scottish homes. Read the call for evidence: https://www.gov.scot/publications/equity-loan-scheme-call-evidence/pages/1/
The call for evidence has generated valuable feedback from a range of knowledgeable and informed stakeholders. This includes over two-thirds of the households who completed works through the Equity Loan pilot and partners involved in delivering the pilot. Representatives of organisations that may make a key contribution to any potential rollout, such as local authorities, support agencies, energy companies and mortgage lenders, also provided valuable perspectives. Their responses provide an essential evidence base for the Scottish Government to draw upon when deciding any next steps.
Most endorsed the use of home equity to support decarbonisation and energy efficiency. They shared examples of the benefits of this approach for individual homeowners and Scotland more broadly. Support for the equity loan model stemmed from its role in enabling homeowners to improve the condition of their properties and make their homes more energy-efficient. Some endorsed the scheme's focus on the decarbonisation of buildings; a few felt that such actions could make a meaningful contribution to climate change mitigation.
However, while there was praise for the equity release model overall, some of those involved in the pilot suggested there was scope for refinement in any potential rollout. They highlighted that a rollout must retain the support available for applicants and described frustrations with processes and timescales for some participants. To maintain their commitment, there is scope to either address these challenges; or manage the expectations of loan holders and delivery partners before they engage with the scheme. A few respondents called for more clarity about the scheme's aims, noting confusion about whether the focus was on decarbonisation and Net Zero; or tackling fuel poverty.
There was general agreement that the EPC could be used in a future scheme, but respondents highlighted improvements to enhance this aspect of any potential rollout. Support for the proposed consumer protection approach set out in the consultation paper was also evident, including the intention to adopt the latest retrofit standards and use the UK TrustMark quality assurance framework. Respondents also put forward a range of suggestions about how to work effectively with partners. They highlighted the need for contractors with appropriate skills to be available to install the home improvements.
Mixed views emerged about eligibility and expanding the scheme's reach; some felt the existing model worked well; others called for an expansion based on needs assessments or broader criteria, particularly around eligible council tax bands. A few felt landlords with more than two properties should be able to engage with any potential rollout. The list of eligible measures was endorsed and some other options were also suggested. Alternative approaches to eligibility and any expansion of measures included in the scheme could be considered in line with the resources available for a potential rollout,
Overall, the feedback presents clear evidence that the pilot was valued, and a wider rollout is welcomed. These views were underpinned by broad recognition of the positive impacts experienced by many households who took part in the equity loan pilot.
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