Question Lodged (S5O-00482) 07/12/2016
‘To ask the Scottish Government what assurances it can give to customers who signed Solar Energy Green Deal agreements with Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Systems, which ceased trading in April 2016, in light of reports that some have found their energy bills increasing by up to three times and the value of their homes being adversely affected.’
Taken in Chamber – Answered by Angela Constance MSP 15/12/2016
Angela Constance MSP responded:
‘I am very sorry to hear that customers who signed up to the United Kingdom Government’s green deal scheme in good faith are facing difficulties from a scheme that was meant to help households to reduce their energy bills. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that we have heard of customers facing difficulties under the scheme, and we have raised our concerns about it directly with the UK Government. We have also worked with the relevant regulatory bodies to ensure that redress routes through both the green deal and the financial ombudsman are available to anyone in the circumstances described. I urge anyone who thinks that they have been affected by the scheme or is struggling to pay their energy bills to contact Home Energy Scotland, which can provide support on the matter.’
Follow up Question Asked in Chamber 15/12/2016
‘Dozens of my constituents in Blantyre have approached me to complain that they have been missold solar panels by Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Systems Ltd under the UK Government’s green deal programme. That is having a huge impact on them financially and personally as they deal with the distress that it is causing them. I believe that the issue is not confined to my constituency of Rutherglen. Can the cabinet secretary give my constituents reassurance that the Scottish Government will press the UK Government for a resolution to the misselling of solar panel deals in Scotland, which is causing people to have huge debt for years to come and properties that they are unable to sell?’
Follow up Answer Delivered in Chamber 15/07/2016
Angela Constance MSP responded:
‘I know that Ms Haughey has been working hard on the issue in her constituency, both representing her specific constituents and raising the matter over the piece. I reassure her that the Scottish Government has made a number of requests over the past few years for the UK Government to strengthen its consumer protection processes. The previous housing minister wrote to the then Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, at the end of last year, emphasising the need to ensure that the UK Government’s schemes offer protection to Scottish customers, and we will continue to press the UK Government to take action wherever possible.
Given the significant issues that have been raised in connection with HELMS, Scottish Government officials convened, with ministerial approval, a UK-wide enforcement group in December 2015. That group was comprised of, among others, representatives from the green deal, the financial ombudsman, the Energy Saving Trust, Citizens Advice Scotland, trading standards and the UK Government. The meeting was used to highlight issues that Scottish consumers were facing. I am pleased to say that, through that process, we have facilitated and agreed redress routes through the ombudsman for customers who feel that they have been missold plans under the scheme.
I also highlight that the Scottish Government funds home energy Scotland, which is an advice service that is on hand to support and guide consumers on the matter. I will ask my officials to liaise directly with Ms Haughey to help her constituents to access that support if they have not already done so.’