This report has detailed the social and organisational implications of delivering Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES). The findings are derived from interviews with all 12 local authorities, the external consultants, and Scottish Government representatives involved in the delivery of the first round of LHEES pilots, which ran from September 2017 to March 2019.
All of the local authority officers interviewed stated that, by being part of the pilots, they gained a better understanding of what an LHEES involves. Developing this understanding included gaining additional skills or identifying which ones would be required in order to deliver LHEES. Suggested skills were: an ability to work with large datasets; being able to think in a strategic fashion; identifying and engaging with relevant colleagues across the council, and external stakeholders. Data analysis skills were particularly limited within the local authority (authorities either did not have them in-house, or in-house experts had little time or requirement to work on the pilots).
Some officers felt that the LHEES pilots did not leave them with a clear method for future LHEES delivery. However, the pilots did result in confirmation of existing knowledge and proposed activities, which was generally perceived positively. A small number of tangible actions to take forward were identified through the pilots. These were primarily areas of activity that the council would ordinarily engage in (for example, the addition of external wall insulation), which did not represent the added value of LHEES. A perceived disappointment of the pilots was that few new opportunities for action emerged. This contributed to a lack of implementation plans, which was also attributed to: limited detail in the LHEES reports; lack of resource; and a lack of certainty over long term future of scheme. Critically, the pilots identified significant gaps in the data available, with the non-domestic sector particularly lacking.
The majority of participants said that the pilot had encouraged cross-department working and co-operation, with the majority of pilots creating new working groups or informal collaborations. This cross-departmental working was seen as positive, but officers did not often achieve as much engagement as they felt was necessary for the LHEES. This was because colleagues regarded as a voluntary activity in addition to their core role, rather than a requirement. This meant that officers were reliant on the goodwill of colleagues.
Working with external consultants was identified as a particular challenge. There is a need for mutually agreed contracts and clear communication for this type of partnership working. Having a consultant centrally procured by Scottish Government was felt to be challenging in this case because of the unclear lines of reporting. In addition, participants felt that ‘one size fits all’ approaches were unsuitable for LHEES.
Stakeholder engagement was seen as essential for the development of LHEES. Identified stakeholders included: the general public; community organisations; utilities; local educational institutions; registered social landlords; and organisations like Citizens Advice Scotland, Home Energy Scotland and Resource Efficient Scotland. However, little to no community engagement was carried out within the pilots. This was because officers did not have enough clarity on future of LHEES; they did not want to raise expectations without certainty over the future direction; or they did not have enough resource for this work. Engaging with businesses was seen as critical for the development of LHEES, but where this was attempted, there was little to no response from businesses. Working with Resource Efficient Scotland was seen as helpful for developing knowledge of the support that is available to businesses, should they engage in the future.
LHEES was viewed as mechanism for local authorities to show leadership, and senior management and councillors were generally perceived by officers to be supportive of something like LHEES. However, engagement with senior management had only taken place in a few of the pilots. Those that had not engaged felt that there was not enough clarity; they did not expect senior members to be interested in a pilot; and they stated that it was not a statutory duty and therefore unlikely to be a priority for senior management or elected members.
All of the local authority officers and external consultants interviewed supported LHEES becoming a statutory duty. In all cases, participants said that the development of a statutory duty would need to be coupled with additional resource, as listed under ‘Key Lessons’.
- Greater certainty in future resource levels at national and local levels would help to facilitate the development of a management model fit for the purpose of delivering the long-term aims of LHEES, and the wider Energy Efficient Scotland programme.
- Local and national government (and any partners involved in the development of LHEES) should ensure they have a shared understanding and framing of the scope and focus of the LHEES.
- Local authority officers would value greater clarity from Scottish Government on the future of LHEES and the trajectory to deliver this.
- To facilitate the most efficient use of resources, LHEES development should be integrated with existing local authority strategies and planning activities wherever possible.
- Much of the data required for LHEES is available, but some local authorities still face challenges with gaining access to some data, and gaps remain in the availability of data for non-domestic properties. This could be improved through implementing compulsory non-domestic energy consumption reporting requirements, and establishing agreements for the sharing of data.
- Geographical and urban/ rural specificities have a significant influence on the delivery of LHEES. If independent, non-local consultants are involved in the development of LHEES, it is important to find ways to ensure that local needs are adequately incorporated. For example, consultants could spend time in the local authority area in order to better understand the local context.
- Functions currently provided by Home Energy Scotland and Zero Waste Scotland’s ‘Resource Efficient Scotland’ programme for small and medium-sized businesses should be maintained, as these offer important resources to allow councils to engage across different sectors of the built environment.
- Any possible statutory duty to needs to incorporate both the development and implementation of an LHEES, and the resource to deliver this.
- There is general support amongst local authority officers for LHEES becoming a statutory duty but this would need to be coupled with:
- More detail and guidance on exactly what is expected
- Support in establishing chains of accountability
- Support in engaging senior management and councillors
- Sufficient resource to deliver an in-depth and useful strategy. Some suggestions made by local authority officers included: the addition of one or two full time officers; support for development of necessary skills; additional consultancy support; resource should be in-house with the local authority.