The Institute of Domestic Heating & Environmental Engineers (IDHEE) is calling for a major sense check before adding any further bureaucracy and accreditation initiatives that limit accessibility and incur costs for installers.
The latest round of recommendations made in the Each Home Counts (Bonfield) Review raise concerns that yet more red tape will put more pressure on installer businesses, many of which have already been hit hard by the failure of previous schemes, says the association.
“Registration and accreditation processes have become a real burden for installers as schemes designed to help homeowners heat their homes more efficiently have come and gone,” said IDHEE president, John Doherty.
“Many have been put off getting involved or excluded as a result of time-consuming and costly new qualification criteria. The result is that they’re prevented from providing their expertise to benefit customers and growing their business.
He argued that the existing skills-based qualifications and certification processes already confirm installers’ competency.
“They are robust, proven and regularly reviewed to ensure consumers are safeguarded against bogus operators and dangerous work practices,” added Mr Doherty.
“Sadly, the latest proposals suggest that little has been learnt from the failure of previous schemes. For busy small installer businesses, each new regulation or accreditation change puts added pressure on their time and costs; and ultimately the service to customers. Requirements such as the need for installers to prove a ‘goods inwards’ department and process, is nonsensical. But unfortunately, this is an example of how already fully compliant, competent and experienced installers are being excluded, with a result that has a significant impact on their business.”
IDHEE chief executive, David Matthews, agreed, saying that the Review’s proposals appear to be another layer of bureaucracy on top of a sector that is already well regulated.
“We are absolutely committed to ensuring that existing training, accreditation and quality standards are regularly reviewed so that they’re relevant and workable, but bringing in yet more schemes will only add to an already overcrowded domestic heating accreditation marketplace.
“After the failure of schemes like the Green Deal, the expectation that the industry can cope with an array of yet more regulations shows that the experience and frustrations of installers – particularly small business owners – have been overlooked. New regulations require time to understand and comply with; a luxury many installers do not have, putting them at a competitive disadvantage to well-resourced larger organisations. We need to focus on making current accreditation processes fit-for-purpose,” he argued.
Overall, the IDHEE is hopeful that working with government advisers and policymakers to update existing processes will improve installations and energy efficiency for consumers and minimise bureaucracy for installers.
The 2017 annual conference and exhibition of the IDHEE will be held at the National Motorcycle Museum near the NEC in Birmingham on Thursday 8 June.
The IDHEE has a growing number of professional heating engineer members, who are signing up to ensure their voice is heard. To find out how to become a member, visit: http://idhee.org.uk/.