Objective 3 - Housing Stock
The Warmer Homes Scotland scheme aims to achieve this objective by ensuring the installation of measures that are appropriate to the property and will benefit current and future inhabitants. This is reflected in one of the scheme's guiding principles that its impacts should be sustainable and long term.
This review sought to answer the following questions to determine whether or not WHS is meeting this objective.
- How many people have dropped out because an appropriate measure was not available?
- Where the emphasis is placed when making recommendations to customers i.e. are surveyors taking a "fabric first" approach?
- Are non specified measures e.g. wind turbines being offered where appropriate?
- Are mandatory measures being installed where recommended?
- Are measures not included in the EPC/ GDAR being recommended?
- Are there other measures that should be included? E.g. enabling. ?
- Are solutions being proposed within grant limits where possible?
Whilst it is difficult to determine the long term impact of WHS from the first seven months of operation, there are steps that can be taken to ensure that only appropriate measures are installed and that they are done so properly and in accordance with the standards that are set out in the contract. These steps are outlined in the customer journey at Figure 11.
Firstly, it is important that the initial survey undertaken by Warmworks is thorough and takes account of the property type and location as well as the measures that would be most suitable. The survey is based on rd SAP software but also relies on the skills and knowledge of the surveyors to determine the most appropriate solution for each property including recommending measures specified by the WHS contract that are not included within the rd SAP software.
As part of the field research, the Scottish Government review team attended 4 surveys in the South East, Islands, and Strathclyde & Central. The observations of the team were that the surveys were thorough, detailed, and that time was taken to engage with customers.
A 5% sample of surveys is also audited on a monthly basis by Pennington Choices who assess each survey against set criteria. The results of the pre-installation audits are summarised at Table 7 and show that the majority of WHS surveys pass the audit requirements and there was only one failed survey in the very early days of the scheme. This suggests that the surveys are being carried out in line with the contractual requirements and are recommending appropriate measures.
Table 7: Results of Pennington audit of WHS surveys
However, the Technical Review carried out by Pennington Choices has highlighted a number of measures that were not offered to customers at all during the period of the review. This will require further investigation to determine why these measures have not been taken up.
Recommendation 8 - A further investigation is required to determine why some measures specified by the scheme have not been offered to customers
Installation & Inspection
All WHS installations are subcontracted by Warmworks to a supply chain of 34 companies (correct over the period of the review) operating across Scotland, including Everwarm who can undertake up to 50% of the installation work. All installers must have or be working towards PAS 2030 certification and must meet the other measure-specific standards set out in the contract e.g. MCS, Oftec, Gas Safe. Post-installation, all works are inspected by a Warmworks inspector.
Given the nature of the work being undertaken and the WHS customer base, it is vitally important that installations are carried out in line with the technical, health & safety and customer care standards required by the contract.
As part of the field research, the Scottish Government review team met with six of Warmworks' subcontracted installers and attended four inspections. The installers all concurred that WHS standards for health & safety and customer care are higher than industry norms. This was backed up by the team's discussions with the Warmworks inspectors who also noted that the inspection regime developed by Warmworks is more robust than that required for other energy efficiency schemes e.g. the Energy Companies Obligation.
A sample of work in progress ( WIP) and post-installation inspections are also carried out by Pennington Choices and a summary of their overall onsite findings (including survey, WIP, and post-install) for the period of the review is at Table 8.
Whilst there were no jobs found to be At Risk and failed inspections were very low, a further breakdown of the WIP and post-installation inspections shows that some level of remedial work was required in around half of the jobs inspected by Pennington Choices as shown in Table 9.
Table 8: Overall results of Pennington onsite inspections
|Inspection outcome||Overall result from October 2015 to March 2016|
Table 9: Rate of remedial work in WIP and Post-Install jobs
|Inspection category||Total no. of inspections||Total no.||% requiring remedial work|
The most common remedial works included:
- Absence of risk, PAT, and ladder registers
- Missing product labels
- Technical survey documents missing
- Use of 220v tools
- Boiler filling loops connected
Warmworks has already taken a number of steps to address these common remedial works including providing customer folders for paperwork and launching an installer portal to improve communications with the supply chain.
From July 2016, Warmworks introduced a performance management system for installers, which ranks them according to their own KPI performance. The impact of these actions should be examined in the 2016/17 WHS review.
Recommendation 9 - The levels of remedial work should be examined in the 2016/2017 review to compare with 2015/2016 levels
This review has also considered what impact the operational delivery and the behaviours that drives subcontractors has on the contractual KPIs, particularly Right First Time and a KPI workshop was held with the Warmer Homes Scotland Strategic Board. This workshop found that whilst the robust inspections put in place by Warmworks were pushing up standards, they were also hampering Warmworks' ability to meet their Right First Time ( RFT) KPI target in areas with low volumes and that in these areas, a 98% RFT target unintentionally became a 100% target. It has therefore been agreed that Warmworks will trial an adjustment to this KPI for three months. This adjustment will allow one failed job in areas with low volumes (under 25 jobs per month) and will be reviewed in December 2016.
The Technical Review covered all questions from the scope that related to the measures available under the scheme, and makes recommendations on whether or not those measures should remain part of the scheme and which new measures should be included. The full report is at Annex 1.
In terms of key findings however, the Technical Review found that:
- The most common measure installed in the period of September 2015 to June 2016 was a gas fired condensing boiler
- Loft insulation was the most common fabric measure installed
- WHS is compliant with current standards and regulations
- An enabling fund for asbestos removal would be beneficial within the scheme.