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Zero Emission Taskforce recommendation report: Scottish Government response

Sets out our response to the Zero Emissions Social Housing Taskforce report.


Chapter 7 Quality control and skills

Recommendation 7:

All partners must work together to ensure there is sufficient workforce capacity in Scotland to deliver high-quality retrofit works in the social housing sector.

Our response:

We have commenced a Heat in Buildings Workforce Assessment, working in collaboration with ClimateXChange, Skills Development Scotland and Scottish Renewables. This project will review current labour force trends across the heat and energy efficiency supply chains, and, focusing on the downstream supply chain, identify potential labour force gaps and present options for addressing those, considering entry pathways into the sector and timescales required for workforce development. The assessment will consider a wide range of skillsets, including in-building assessment, design, and advisory services; insulation installation; heat pump installation and maintenance; heat network design, construction and installation; and product and equipment manufacture.

Action 29.

As part of the proposed Housing Net Zero Technical Steering Group, work should be taken forward to conduct an ongoing audit of skills and qualification processes based on the identified measures for property archetypes and as new technological solutions develop. This should be in conjunction with Skills Development Scotland and the No One Left Behind delivery plan for employability, and include representatives from rural, remote and island communities as well as feed into the Scottish Government’s proposed supply chain action plan.

Scottish Government response

We have agreed with the British Standards Institution (BSI) to establish an expert technical group to advise on retrofit standards in Scotland and to develop best practice that reflects the nature of our housing stock, weather and other environmental factors. We will work with the social housing sector to ensure its views are represented and taken into account.

We remain committed to long-term collaboration with partners interested in improving energy efficiency and microgeneration skills. This must take into account not only installer skills, but also skills for other roles, such as the Retrofit Coordinator role. As a result, we will be seeking feedback from key stakeholders including industry and skills agencies such as Skills Development Scotland on the best mechanism for further developing these skills. We will ensure that skills and qualification requirements are considered as part of the EESSH2 review.

Action 30.

Social landlords should incorporate supply chain considerations in their forward planning to support the transition and ensure demand for new skills and workforce is well understood to inform Scottish Government action on workforce investment.

Scottish Government response

We welcome the commitment from the social housing sector to incorporate supply chain considerations in their forward planning. We believe that the social housing sector can use its purchasing power to play a positive role to help develop the supply chain in a way that supports both the sector itself, as well as the broader consumer base across Scotland. Ensuring visibility of pipeline and developing a clear understanding of supply chain needs will be central to achieving this.

Action 31.

Increased support for Scottish colleges should be progressed as a priority, and targeted grant funding provided for training and upskilling in line with proposed accreditation requirements (e.g. PAS 2035). This should include a specific funding stream to support small and rural contractors and their staff alongside funding for online retrofit co-ordinator training for those with appropriate construction expertise. This should be considered in conjunction with the Scottish Government’s work on upskilling EPC assessors.

Scottish Government response

The Scottish Government, through Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council and the Energy Saving Trust already provide funding and support for training and upskilling to support the heat in buildings transition. This includes over £1.3 million of support since 2020 for relevant training opportunities through the National Transition Training Fund in addition to support to employers through the Flexible Workforce Development Fund.

To date we have provided £164,700 capital investment in colleges in the north of Scotland (with further investment in the south of Scotland supported by Scottish Power Green Economy Fund) for heat pump and insulation training equipment. Three colleges in Scotland currently offer training for thermal insulation with a further two training facilities due to open August 2022. There are ten colleges who are equipped to offer heat pump training, with a further four coming online later this year.

However, we recognise that there is a need for continuous investment in skills development across the heat and energy efficiency sectors, including a need for more targeted support, especially in remote and rural areas.

Our Heat in Buildings Supply Chain Delivery Plan will set out further details later this year.

Action 32.

The Scottish Government should ensure the development of a flexible approach to the introduction of PAS 2035 in Scotland, allowing temporary exemptions or extensions in areas with limited access to accredited installers, and providing additional support packages to remote, rural and island communities (e.g. interim provision of gap funding where ECO funding cannot be accessed). The Scottish Government should also allow accredited retrofit co-ordinators to sign-off works to ensure locally-based smaller contractors in rural, remote and island communities can continue to participate in retrofit programmes.

Scottish Government response

The PAS 2035 standard and the BSI are sponsored by the UK Government. The regulation of product standards and business associations is a reserved matter for the UK Government. We have proposed adopting a more flexible approach in Scotland that reflects the challenges that face remote rural and island communities.

We recognise that some householders, particularly those in rural areas, will find it more difficult to find an improved installer to carry out work. We are developing options to support households who are unable to find a TrustMark or MCS accredited installer for our new schemes, while also working to develop Scotland's energy efficiency and zero emissions supply chain through our Supply Chain Delivery Plan.

We will also work with TrustMark to develop alternate routes to approval which can reduce cost or administrative burdens for those suppliers who wish to carry out retrofit work but are not yet ready to undertake full PAS 2035/PAS 2030 accreditation. This should help improve the overall pool of suppliers available to consumers.

Case Study: ASHP Heat Network Project with ng homes, Glasgow

Glasgow based housing association, ng homes received funding from the Scottish Government’s Social Housing Net Zero Heat Fund and District Heating Loan Fund to create a district heating network on their Carron Housing Estate.

Communal Air Source Heat Pumps have been connected as an underground heat network which serves seven tower blocks of 314 flats. This system replaced a mixture of inefficient and expensive storage heaters, which tenants founds expensive to run. The system also benefits from solar panels installed on three of the tower blocks, which provide power to the heat pumps.

Not only will the project deliver carbon savings, tenants are also expected to see a reduction in their energy bills of up to 40%.

This is partly achieved via a smart platform which combines energy usage with long range weather forecasting information from the MET office. In addition, the tenants will form a sub-committee which will be responsible for management decisions in relation to the operation and maintenance of the heat network, in particular they will be responsible for setting the tariff rates charged to tenants for heat.

Communal Air Source Heat Pumps in Glasgow

Contact

Email: callum.neil@gov.scot

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