Energy Efficient Scotland has the potential to offer significant benefits to householders and businesses across Scotland. In order to achieve this, there needs to be a robust supply chain in place that can provide high quality energy efficiency products and services across Scotland. Furthermore, the capacity of the supply chain will need to increase significantly over the coming years if the aims and objectives of the Programme are to be met. This includes eradicating fuel poverty, mitigating climate change and growing the Scottish economy in an inclusive way. Consequently, this is expected to offer significant economic and development opportunities for suppliers across Scotland.
Alongside these opportunities come challenges. Through my work at the Energy Saving Trust I have witnessed first-hand the issues facing both householders and suppliers. Whilst most householders have little cause for complaint with the work done on their property, the fact remains there are still householders out there who are being mis-sold energy efficiency measures and/or are having problems with the quality of their installations. On the other side of the coin, suppliers – particularly micro-sized businesses (10 employees or less) - have their own issues. I have spoken to many suppliers, from Dumfries and Galloway to the Shetland Islands, and the same themes come up again and again highlighting the cost and hassle of obtaining certifications as well as perceived barriers relating to procurement being the most common. Given the important role that suppliers will play in Energy Efficient Scotland, the challenges they face and the need for robust consumer protection, the Scottish Government decided to set up a Short Life Working Group looking at supply chain and skills and I was pleased to accept their invitation to Chair this group.
Members of the working group were chosen on the basis of their expertise with representatives having significant knowledge on construction, economic development, qualifications and skills, historic buildings and consumer protection. I would like to personally thank them all for the significant time they have given in helping shape the recommendations in this report. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the team at the Scottish Government for bringing the Group together and facilitating our discussions.
This report summarises the work of this Group and covers five key themes: quality assurance, building the workforce, consumer protection, procurement and non-domestic. Each chapter represents one of the key themes discussed and sets out the Group's perspective for each along with recommendations of which there are 21 in total.
Should these recommendations be adopted, it would mean installation work undertaken under Energy Efficient Scotland would be carried out by fully competent people, providing appropriate warranties and guarantees and be backed by independent inspections. There would also be robust sanctions taken against any supplier falling foul of the Programme's rules as well a single point of contact to help guide consumers through a clearly outlined complaints process.
The Group was keen to recognise the good work suppliers are currently doing and through these recommendations, we want to make sure that every business who is committed to achieving high quality work should have the opportunity to benefit from the Programme, no matter where they're based or what their size is. Furthermore the quality assurance requirements for the Programme should be fair, proportionate and not cost-prohibitive for businesses
Over the next few months we will continue to engage with industry and other stakeholders to look at ways in which we can work with the Scottish Government to raise awareness of Energy Efficient Scotland amongst our SME suppliers and how best to support their participation in the Programme. In addition work is already underway through the Energy Skills Partnership and Scottish Colleges to implement the recommendations from the Building the Workforce chapter. Overall by implementing these recommendations we hope to develop a supply chain that can grow and develop with the Programme and at the same time provide a high level of service to householders and businesses.
Chair of Short Life Working Group