Main concern: will the CLG enforce new standards?
I reached out to five accreditation schemes for their take on the CLG letter, and the reforms it imposed on accreditation schemes (see: Accreditation schemes put on notice for “unacceptable practices”, CLG letter reveals). Three responded.
For other industry perspectives, Linn Rafferty, independent DEA, and Peter Ambrose, MD of The Partnership, a HIP provider both employing and working directly with outside DEAs, and renowned for paying reasonable fees, also offer their opinion.
One of the representative institutes was also approached, but they didn’t respond in time, presumably.
In no particular order…
Quidos - Philip Salaman
“Throw the book at them”
I am incredibly pleased that the CLG are taking bold steps, but I just hope this does not turn into a witch-hunt.
If they identify that some of the bigger schemes are flouting the rules then they should throw the book at them, just the same as they are obviously intending to at some of the smaller schemes.
The practice of "self auditing" that is rife in the bigger commercial set-ups stinks, and should be stopped ASAP. Maybe this will start that process.
We have congratulated the CLG on taking such decisive steps to insist on a level playing field for all schemes.
NHER - Brian Scannell
Concern panel managers may do own auditing
The documents arrived from CLG completely out of the blue just a few days before Christmas and I'm still slightly in shock!
In essence, we greatly welcome the apparent determination to address problems that have been all too apparent for far too long.
We do have concerns about the lack of detail in some areas. Most notably, there needs to be far more specific detail on what is meant by evidence to support desktop audits.
Another area where more specific detail is required is the 3rd party auditing. At the moment, the wording suggests that panel mangers may be allowed to do their own auditing, whereas employers seem to be precluded. This clearly doesn’t make sense.
So in essence, a very welcome development but more needs to be done to achieve the goal of ensuring that schemes operate on a level playing field and are doing their jobs properly.
Beyond the details though, the overarching issue is whether CLG actually have the determination and capacity to follow through on this.
Getting the rules right is one thing, but enforcing them in practice is the key.
Northgate welcomes the new requirements outlined by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG).
The clarification of existing requirements, such as those regarding the accuracy of measurement, will help to reassure consumers about the quality of service they are receiving.
At Northgate, quality has always been at the heart of everything we do. We are well placed to meet the new requirements and will strive to exceed them where we are not already doing so.
The independent DEA
Linn Rafferty of JTec Services
Independent DEA, Linn Rafferty, who also serves as member to the EEPH (Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes) Energy Advice Providers Group, and is a recognised expert in providing energy advice, laments the demise of Faero, which was set-up in 2006 to run a Competent Person Scheme for SAP and Carbon Dioxide Emission Rate calculations.
Being able to rely on the consistency of EPCs is crucial to their being accepted - and valued - by consumers. If EPCs are not valued, it is not surprising they are bought solely on price, driving down fees and creating financial difficulties to many in the DEA community. This needs to be overcome.
Faero, and common procedures across schemes
The need for consistency was one reason, when Government was considering how to implement the EPBD, why the energy rating industry advised that common procedures should apply across schemes. Two of the oldest organisations - at the time authorised by Defra to issue quality assured energy ratings for homes - were asked by one branch of Government to devise a competent person scheme to create suitable standards; this organisation was Faero Ltd.
Unfortunately, other Government departments were moving away from the competent person approach, with the result that Faero lost Government support, was unable to compete, and had to cease trading.
One critical aspect of Faero's approach was that the accreditation schemes would all have been required to operate quality management systems to ISO9001 standards, which were already in place within the organisations that Defra had authorised. Operating to ISO9001 would have gone a long way towards dealing with some of the issues mentioned in this latest report; such as dealing with non compliant EPCs, escalating disciplinary procedures for Assessors, and so on.
In this context, it's interesting to note that one of the accreditation schemes, NHER, made a very similar recommendation in its annual report, published earlier this week (in fact, this recommendation was also made in their annual report last year).
CLG not shown its teeth
CLG (the government department responsible for energy certification, and therefore also charged with maintaining quality standards across schemes) hasn't, apparently, shown its teeth in this area - until now!
If the new regime proposed by CLG has the effect of improving standards to the sort of levels Faero wanted to deliver, this can only be a good thing for our industry. If EPCs can be re-invented as a quality product, delivered by an expert, professional DEA, who can also give good energy advice that consumers will want to act on, then the days of £30 panel fees should be numbered.
The HIP provider
Peter Ambrose of The Partnership
Low-priced HIP providers and “glaring mistakes” in EPCs
We have always been concerned about the pressure energy inspectors are put under by low-price HIP providers forcing down their fees, typically resulting in poor quality work.
We have had occasions where we have carried out an EPC, where one already existed, and found glaring mistakes in the size of the properties and basic insulation details. Given that we always tell our clients that these are objective reports, this does lead to difficult questions.
Whilst we have seen increased levels of monitoring by trading standards, we believe that this new initiative by the government is well overdue, and we welcome a kite-marking system for quality control in this industry if it is to gain credibility.
Reply #1 on : Fri January 08, 2010, 15:42:21
Reply #2 on : Mon January 11, 2010, 15:45:35