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In the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act 2019, the Scottish Government sets out its targets that by 2040, as far as is reasonably possible, no household in Scotland is in fuel poverty and, in any event no more than 5% of Scottish Households are in fuel poverty and no more than 1% of Scottish households are in extreme fuel poverty. Warmer Homes Scotland is the Scottish Government’s national fuel poverty scheme which is designed to help households living in or at risk of living in fuel poverty make their homes warmer, more comfortable and cheaper to heat, by installing a range of energy efficiency measures such as insulation and heating systems.

As the Scottish Government is financing this scheme, it is imperative that they get value for money while achieving a high standard of workmanship. Additionally, the size and scope of the contract places a heavy emphasis on the availability of auditable information. Following a successful tender bid, Pennington Choices were appointed as the Government’s Quality Assurance Auditor. This role involves Pennington Choices carrying out monthly audits on completed measures installed across Scotland as well as the performance of the service provider against the Service Level Agreements and Key Performance Indicators set out in the contract and feeding back the results in monthly QA reports.

The Challenge

Geographically this project is challenging as a number of audits are required to be completed in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland – Luckily, through our experienced project manager, we have been able to obtain a pool of inspectors that cover all the hard to reach areas, ensuring an even percentage of audits is undertaken across Scotland. Gaining access has been difficult throughout, as the customers experience up to 7 separate visits by various parties. It is key that we ensure our communication from inspectors through to our Planning Scheduling and Dispatch team is to the highest quality.

What We Did

To ensure this significant contract was effectively mobilised and remained competently managed throughout the life of its duration, we established a fixed Scottish office with a dedicated project manager, responsible solely for the success of this contract alone. We met with the Scottish Government before we commenced on site to discuss and agree the objectives and service requirements for this contract. Once we had agreed the full requirements for this contract and determined an appropriate sample size to survey, our team of Scottish domestic energy assessors began delivering the first phase of technical inspections.

For Technical Monitoring audits, Pennington Choices conduct three different inspections.

Pre-installation inspection – at this stage, the property is surveyed and its recommended measures are determined. The customer’s personal situation being taken into account. Work in Progress inspection – This inspection is undertaken whilst the installer is present, and installing the measure at the property.

Post inspection – This is carried out once the installation of the measure(s) has been completed.From these inspections, we are able to provide our clients with: Monthly reports based on various types of inspections, displaying the results of right first time installs, works that require remediation and failed jobs Trends of good or poor installers Measure variety Customer satisfaction Alongside this, Pennington Choices were instructed on: Ad Hoc Customer Experience Audits – to mediate customer complaints or measure faults Ad Hoc Specification Design on new measures – providing industry knowledge and processes for applying new measures to the programme.

Community Benefits Auditing – This entails Pennington Choices visiting various contractors carrying out work under the contract and auditing their health & safety plans, compliance documents and gauging what local benefits they offer to the areas they operate in as well as how they are providing training and apprenticeships to local people.

Our Achievements

During our contract with the Scottish Government, we have successfully inspected approximately 2500 properties across 5 geographic areas, covering the full range of energy efficiency measures offered under the Warmer Homes Scotland contract. This, coupled with our consistency in producing 48 monthly reports on time, has seen our contract with the Scottish Government extended through to 2022.