Eight delegates from the West Midlands travelled to Edinburgh on Friday to see how Scotland is tackling fuel poverty through its Warmer Homes Scotland scheme administered by Warmworks. We listened to staff working with the public, learned how installation of measures by sub-contractors is effectively managed, and reflected on how a well funded policy can deliver benefits to fuel poor householders. One delegate remarked, ‘…a first class operation that puts the customer experience at the heart of the journey.’

In Scotland, there’s a single point of contact for energy queries, including those about home heating. Managed by Home Energy Scotland, run by the Energy Savings Trust, a short survey is carried out with the householder during the initial inbound call. If appropriate, details are passed onto Warmworks or other agencies most suited to the caller’s circumstances to follow up. Should a caller decide to proceed. Warmworks carries out a full technical survey of the property before recommending measures to the householder.

The fact-finding mission included Matthew Rhodes (Chair, Energy Capital), Linda Forbes (Programme Manager, Energy Capital), Mike Leonard (CEO, Building Alliance), Rosemary Coyne (Co-ordinator, SHAP), Rachel Jones (Chief Executive, Act on Energy), Simon Ross (Director, Marches Energy Agency), Coral Tilling (Senior Energy Engineer, City of Wolverhampton Council), Derrick Taylor (Principal Carbon Officer, Birmingham City Council).  Also pictured, from Warmworks, are Ross Armstrong (Managing Director) and Simon Kemp (Business Development Manager). We are grateful for them and their staff for an interesting and informative visit, which has given us much food for thought and sharpened our ambitions.

Particular mention should be made of the communities strand of Warmworks’ delivery contract. Making work experience, apprenticeships, and other benefits available in the areas in which they work bears testament to their commitment to delivering better outcomes all round.

Addressing fuel poverty in Scotland is a huge challenge. But with Warmer Homes Scotland, and other interventions available e.g. HEEPS, HEEPS:ABS, and EESSH, progress is being made. These are accompanied by improvements in health and wellbeing. We hope some of the learning from north of the Border will inform programmes here in the West Midlands.