Engineers who install energy saving measures under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme will soon have to register for a new TrustMark quality scheme, the government has said.
The ECO scheme offers low-income and vulnerable households free energy saving measures, which often include the installation of new boilers and insulation.
Announcing the new scheme, Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said it would protect the 300,000 low-income households who use the ECO scheme every year. He also said it would protect all homeowners having energy efficiency improvement work carried out on their properties, if they choose to use a TrustMark-registered business.
Consumers will be able to find a TrustMark-registered business by searching online on the TrustMark website.
Kwarteng said: “Driving up the energy efficiency of Britain’s homes is key to us reducing emissions from households, saving people money on their bills and helping us to end our contribution to global warming entirely by 2050.
“The new mark will ensure tradespeople meet industry standards, have good technical competence and trading practices, and have a commitment to providing good customer service.”
The Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) has expressed concern over the plans, pointing to a section of the consultation response document that says “this is just the first step forward to making these standards the norm, and we will champion the roll-out of higher standards and consumer protection across the retrofit market”.
HHIC says: “In August we raised concerns that this policy was sliding in below the radar, and that once it made its way into ECO it could then make its way into Building Regulations and standards. The consultation response confirms our fears. Once this standard makes its way into ECO it could (and most probably will) then make its way into Building Regulations and standards.
“Government expects costs to increase for suppliers and industry. We estimate that this will equate to £41,000 a year per company. This includes registration fees, training, time away from trading, reduction in the number of jobs completed due to time delays, and the employment of at least one new member of staff to be a retrofit coordinator. This burden will disproportionately fall on small businesses as they are forced out of the market by larger companies.
“No industry is immune from the need to manage and monitor standards. The HHIC has long campaigned for more support and funding for enforcement of existing Building Regulations, to ensure that standards remain high and to make it harder for the ‘cowboys’ to trade. We believe that the mechanisms for quality and efficiency are already in place and, with more funding and support, we can continue to raise standards and deliver a first-class heating and hot water industry.”
The full government response is at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/energy-company-obligation-eco3-improving-consumer-protection