5. Additional feedback
At the end of the survey loan holders were offered the opportunity to provide any further comments on the pilot. Half of these comments were positive, reflecting on improvements to their homes, beneficial impacts on daily life and the wider value of the pilot.
"I'm just delighted that we've got the opportunity through the Energy Saving Trust and we're more than happy with the results. Without that, we'd probably still be sitting here the same windows, same doors and the same roof. So, more than happy with how it all worked out. The only thing I would say is that it's a really good scheme."
"I think this is a wonderful initiative, that really could help an awful lot of people who otherwise would be left at the back of the queue."
"I think it's a great scheme and I think there will be many people like my mum across the country - if she was in that house for a few more winters she might not last the cold effects - but she is in a warm house, happy and got a good end to her days... it's peace of mind as well."
"I have to say we are delighted with it - just iron out the hiccups."
Three loan holders reflected on the environmental value of the pilot.
"We need to do more and more if we're going to achieve climate targets, especially in retrofitting older properties."
"It's reduced the carbon footprint."
"I'm in favour of the Scottish Government making funds available to housing associations and to owner occupiers to try and reduce the carbon emissions. So whether that's to better insulate properties, or to invest in like ground source heat pumps and things like that, that would be my next move."
A small number loan holders urged for greater promotion of the pilot, believing it could benefit many others.
Queries and wider views on potential improvements to the -pilot
A quarter of respondents described some confusion about the terms of their loan. They queried charges, expressed uncertainty about the current value of their loan and asked if and how they could pay it back early. Those who expressed uncertainty during the about how much they would pay back were contacted and the loan was re-explained to them.
"The only thing that I'm really bothered about it is I don't know how much I would have to pay back. And that kind of niggles at me."
"I still would like an annual statement or a bi-annual - is there somewhere I can go for more information? I saw that it [the loan pilot] was the Scottish Government so I thought that must be a good deal and it was for people that had a disability. I thought that must be very fair but in the back of my mind I'm thinking I jumped into it too quickly."
"It was put in a good while ago, and recently, my mum got an email saying that they wanted proof of receipt and transfer of funds to various parties involved, which was all sent initially after the work was done. And they're saying if they don't receive it in 60 days, they will proceed to recover the funds of the grant. Very worrying for an 80 year old to read that. So I scanned all the documents again, sent them back again. And it has been signed at each office, and we have heard nothing back … that's a worry she doesn't need."
"One thing was that when it was finally settled and I was told that I was owed an extra £200 for legal costs, that was all supposed to be included in the charge - I contacted the solicitors - they were quite annoyed that there was this extra charge added on. It had been said to me payment had taken so long from the Scottish Government that solicitors had put on a charge - my solicitor said 'do not pay that'. It had been said to me that if wanted that included in the loan they were going to charge nearly the same amount again...I was advised not to do that and not to pay it separately. I am delighted with the work done and the heating and I don't want to complain too much - but there was a hassle."
Some reiterated previous comments about time delays in the process and one household identified three issues they thought should be considered in any future expansion of the loan scheme:
- The limits on the number of properties an applicant could get support for, therefore a "good conscientious landlord would not be eligible for this".
- A perceived conflict between energy efficiency improvements and planning regulations "You can't double glaze windows in a listed building - this means you have to look at incredibly expensive alternative ways."
- The loan limit meaning that implementing all of the work needed on a larger property can be difficult to achieve "We got up to the maximum value of the loan but couldn't do all the windows".
One loan holder reflected that the use of council tax banding as criteria for eligibility might prevent some people in need from accessing the scheme.
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