Friday, December 01, 2006

BBC Watchdog Part II

Hello There My Friends

Hope you are all feeling well and looking forward to the weekend.

What a week it has been ! Good for some people, but not so good for others ? It reminds me of that advert for a product where they suggest that for every stupid event that occurs in the world, an intelligent event happens in parallel so the overall balance is maintained.

Brings me nicely on to the BBC Watchdog item this week that highlighted an investigation into the Warm Front grant and how it is managed by Defra and Eaga.

I have recently resigned from this company (Eaga) and interestingly many of the issues that were raised during the investigation reported by BBC Watchdog touched the surface of some of my reasons for leaving.

It is beyond belief that this Government scheme that is aimed specifically at providing assistance to "vulnerable" groups of people can allow the issues highlighted by BBC Watchdog to be apparently condoned. I understand that many people operating in the domestic energy efficiency industry in the UK are equally concerned about how the Warm Front scheme is currently being managed - and rightly so.

In the September 2006 edition of the Warm Front Team bulletin issued to all Local Authority contacts in the North West of England (and I presume the same process applies to all other Councils in England?), Eaga highlight the number of measures and households that have received assistance via the Warm Front grant. In the September 2006 information, it was interesting to note that they also published their managing agent fees?

Of course I understand that a fee is appropriate for delivery of a service - that goes without saying. But surely there is a question to be answered about Value For Money and Quality Of Customer Service? The "customer experience" examples reported by BBC Watchdog were way below the benchmark.

Eaga have defended or will defend their position Im sure - and the fact that over 1.2 million homes have benefitted from the Warm Front scheme since its inception is a fabulous result. However the Eastern region of the Warm Front grant was previously managed by Powergen up to June 2005. If you look at the waiting times for central heating and insulation via the Warm Front grant in this area today, you will notice that part of this area has some of the longest lead times for measures in the whole country now?

I think the Warm Front scheme philosophy is great - but I question the fact that the company that currently manages the scheme for Defra also apparantly awards itself up to 33% of the total volume of the present contract via its own inhouse contractors? Bearing in mind that the total grant funding for Warm Front is running at around £250 million. Many heating and insulation contractors that have worked in the industry for over 15 years (during old HEES - the predecessor of Warm Front) have now lost a substantial amount of Warm Front contract work and many are facing insolvency procedures.

So my friends I hope you find the coming weeks leading up to Christmas relatively stress free and take a moment to think about those less fortunate than ourselves. I have had one of my best Christmas presents ever early this year so Im a happy bunny.

My boyfriend and I are planning a different approach to Christmas Day this year by helping out at local sheltered housing units, collecting the seniors from their homes nearby, transporting them to the community centre, helping to serve their Christmas dinner and then making sure they arrive back home safe and sound. We are really looking forward to this - and I look forward to the blogs about it with pictures I hope !

Take care and do come back again soon.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel


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