Monday, 23 November 2015

NIA response to SWI report

The National Insulation Association welcomes the Chief Construction Advisers Solid Wall Insulation Report – ‘Unlocking Demand and Driving Up Standards’ and sets out plans to host a meeting of key stakeholders in the new year to consider actions arising.

On 12th November 2015 Peter Hansford, Chief Construction Adviser published an independent report following an eight month review of the solid wall insulation market which involved the consideration of written and oral evidence from a range of stakeholders.

As the lead trade association for solid wall insulation in the UK representing manufacturers, system designers and installers of both external and internal wall insulation, the NIA had considerable input to the report and our CEO Neil Marshall was invited to respond to the report on behalf of the industry at the launch event on 12th November.  

Welcoming the report he said: "For some time now we have been calling for a comprehensive Business Plan to be developed to insulate the UK's solid wall properties in a systematic and cost effective manner and therefore we welcome the review and recommendations carried out by Peter Hansford and his team.  It is extremely encouraging and reassuring to see that Peter has picked up on the key issues raised and suggestions made by the industry through the written and oral evidence provided and that there has been strong cross departmental involvement and support from DECC, DCLG and BIS – this is vital in ensuring a joined up approach to future policies and regulations.

"This report is a crucial first step and provides a platform for the development of an overall business plan to insulate the UKs solid wall properties.  However, the outcome of the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review will be extremely important too as it will set out the Governments level of ambition.  We strongly support the current Energy Bill Revolution Campaign for energy efficiency to become a funded infrastructure priority as we need to go allot further than the Governments current stated ambition of insulating 1m homes over five years if we are to make a significant impression on the UK's solid wall insulation housing stock.
"A positive response and the adoption of key recommendations from the report by Government is now needed and it is essential that the Government works with the industry in developing the detailed implementation plan – a leadership forum as recommended is a very good idea but we need to make sure that the right people are involved and I for one would like to see a far more ambitious timescale for doing this, 6 months rather than 12.  There are plenty of examples of best practice that can be quickly and easily adopted into a unified approach and at the NIA we have already established a solid wall insulation external stakeholder support group which could be drawn upon."  

In response to specific points contained in the report he added:

  • To date a ‘one size fits all’ approach has tended to be adopted to solid wall insulation but this needs to change.   A segmented and targeted approach is needed taking into account building type, tenure, the occupants and the different solutions available external, internal and hybrid wall insulation. 
  • The Government now needs to quantify the overall business case for solid wall insulation taking into account the multiple benefits identified in the report using its own analysis and models in order to determine the appropriate level of investment required.
  • A significant part of the report is concerned with quality and standards and whilst we recognise that there is scope for further improvement there are some very good companies carrying out some very good work and there are different approaches taken in different market sectors.   We now need to develop a comprehensive industry wide QA framework for the residential retrofit market that sets out clear and consistent standards and practices which are  mandated and subject to robust enforcement.  We need to ensure that all companies operating in our industry in future operate to the same level as the best performers.  To this end we initiated the development of a new industry wide QA framework several months ago with input from industry and key stakeholders and this is now feeding into the Bonfield review.  
  • However, whilst the industry can do its bit, there are a number of external factors linked to policy and regulations that contribute to quality and these need to be addressed too; light touch accreditation, variations in practices between energy companies, certification bodies and guarantee providers, rates paid for work and erratic work profiling.
  • In terms of delivery, we believe an area based, street by street approach could play an important role as it could deliver significant economies of scale and enables all householders to be engaged and encouraged to act having seen the results that can be achieved in neighbouring properties.
  • And last but not least, we need to educate and engage consumers far more effectively than we have to date.  Currently there is a very low level of awareness of the availability of solid wall insulation solutions let alone the benefits provided.  Research has shown that a large number of those people living in solid wall properties do not believe they can be insulated.  We would therefore like to see a high level Government endorsed consumer awareness and engagement programme backed by targeted incentives that will really make a difference.

In terms of next steps it is anticipated that there will be a Government response to the report over the next few months however, Peter Hansford has strongly advised industry not to wait for the Government response and to take the actions arising from the report that it can proceed with on its own. 

To this end, whilst the NIA is already undertaking a number of initiatives to increase the demand for and uptake of solid wall insulation and to further enhance industry standards, acting on the advice from Peter Hansford our CEO will be convening a meeting of a number of key stakeholders who have had input to the review early in the new year in order to identify actions arising from the report that can be taken forward in a co-ordinated and timely manner.  


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