“LADS” = Local Authority Delivery Scheme – it’s a grant scheme aimed at installing energy saving measures in low-income households.
Sounds great! But a number of local authorities have struggled to deliver it. Including here in the West Midlands.
The biggest single reason is that central government gives local authorities an unrealistic timescale of 12 months to deliver it.
In 12 months, local authorities might have to:
- set priorities for which homes should be targeted
- go through a procurement exercise for retrofit assessors and installers
- promote the availability of the scheme to eligible residents
- sign up residents and deal with enquiries
- carry out retrofit assessments
- deal with drop-outs and objections
- install the measures
- complete the paperwork to show that the money has been spent properly.
An additional constraint is that it is high risk to install external wall insulation between October and March, because there is an increased risk of the render finish cracking. This means you have seven months to deliver the scheme – from April to the end of October – if it involves external wall insulation on solid wall or system-built homes.
It’s no wonder the LADS scheme is so difficult to deliver. The government should extend the delivery period to at least two years.
One other thing that does need to change is the way expectations of these scheme are managed. We know from the experience of past schemes such as the Green Deal, that if scheme managers talk big numbers that they can’t deliver, or promise complex measures such as external wall insulation or heat pumps that they can’t realistically deliver, then people will feel let down and will lose trust in the scheme. Community organisations and activists who want ensure that their neighbours take advantage of the scheme, can find that people’s trust in them is undermined. The relationship between a community organisation and the people it serves becomes transactional and extractive. We saw this on past schemes such as the Green Deal.
Sometimes it is better to stop promoting something and withdraw from it. This is a difficult decision but it is in nobody’s interest to mislead vulnerable residents and to give them false hope.
We should also avoid using terms like “retrofit” in schemes aimed at the general public. It’s jargon, and most people don’t understand what it means.