The Scottish Government (SG) is committed to improving energy efficiency in homes and decarbonising heat to help tackle climate change. A pathway to net zero-emission buildings by 2045 is set out in the Heat in Buildings Strategy, which details a series of near-term actions and long-term commitments to accelerate the decarbonisation of new and existing buildings.
One mechanism which could potentially improve the energy efficiency of housing stock in Scotland is being trialled through the Home Energy Efficiency Equity Loan Pilot. Established by the SG in January 2017 and closing in March 2022, the scheme allows eligible homeowners to borrow up to £40,000 from the SG against the value of their property to fund eligible works, including energy efficiency measures, heat loss reduction measures and repairs. Loan holders must repay the loan in full when they sell their home or transfer ownership. The loan is available for properties in Council Tax bands A to C or for properties in all Council Tax bands where the owner receives qualifying benefits.
The pilot scheme operates in eight local authority areas: Argyll & Bute, Dundee, Glasgow, Inverclyde, Perth & Kinross, Renfrewshire, Stirling and Western Isles. As of 1st November 2021,136 loans have been offered, with an average loan value of £18,382.
In June 2021, research agency The Lines Between was commissioned by the Scottish Government to survey homeowners who used the Equity Loan scheme to fund energy efficiency improvements to their home and who had completed the journey from application to completion of works. This survey aims to generate evidence on the impact of the scheme for those who took part, and their views on any changes needed in order for a nationwide roll-out of the scheme to be successful. In addition, the survey is supplemented by a public call for evidence and three stakeholder webinars.
Findings from the survey of loan holders are presented in this report.
The survey was designed by the Scottish Government. It included a range of questions to explore the Equity Loan's impact on loan holders' wellbeing, their energy bills and carbon reductions achieved. Loan holders were also asked for their feedback on the process of taking part in the scheme and how this could be improved in the future. The full loan holder feedback questionnaire is included in Appendix 2.
Details of the 54 loan holders who took part in the pilot were shared confidentially with researchers and each loan holder was invited to take part in the survey. In total, 38 loan holders agreed to be interviewed (70% of the sample). Of the 16 loan holders who did not take part in the research:
- five did not respond to the invitation to take part;
- four confirmed they did not want to be involved in the research;
- three agreed to take part, but did not answer the phone at a scheduled interview time and did not respond to attempts to reschedule;
- two had invalid contact details;
- one was unable to take part due to poor health;
- one had moved abroad.
A breakdown of the profile of loan holders who participated in the survey, including information about location, age and household composition, is included in Chapter 2.
The remainder of this report is structured as follows:
- Chapter 2 provides information about the profile of loan holders who participated in the survey, e.g. location, age and household composition.
- Chapter 3 contains feedback about the impact of measures installed.
- Chapter 4 explores the Equity Loan scheme process, including what loan holders felt worked well and what could be improved.
- Chapter 5 contains all other comments about the scheme.
- Chapter 6 presents conclusions based on the feedback survey.
- Tables with responses to the closed feedback questions are provided in Appendix 3, with results presented at relevant sections in Chapters 2 and 3. The closed questions covered measures installed, levels of warmth before and after works completed, impact on bills, and energy use monitoring.
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