Citizens Advice Scotland outlines plans to protect consumers in move to net-zero

There remains a significant risk consumers who invest in energy efficiency measures will be vulnerable to mis-selling, poor installations and complex redress routes without stronger protection, according to ​new research published by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).

CAS said stronger protections are essential as the energy efficiency and renewables market is set to grow exponentially in the coming years as Scotland attempts to meet ambitious climate change targets.

The charity is outlining a series of recommendations including:

  • Developing a Scottish Quality​Mark to recognise ethical businesses consumers can trust
  • Establishing a public database featuring key information required by consumers looking to install energy efficiency measures, like accreditation schemes and available funding
  • Stronger use and awareness of enforcement rules against rogue traders
  • Creating a multi-agency group to collaborate intelligence, identify scams and consumer pitfalls and map advice provision requirements

The report found that only 28% of consumers were aware of a ‘cooling off’ period having purchased energy efficiency products.

CAS has shared its report with the Scottish Government and will continue to press the case that consumers are at the heart of the move to net zero.

Kate Morrison, CAS fair markets spokesperson, said: “We firmly support net zero targets and want to see people in Scotland living in warmer, more energy efficient homes.

“As part of the drive towards meeting those targets, homeowners and landlords will be required to meet energy efficiency standards and may need to consider renewable technology.

“Achieving these goals will only be possible if consumers have trust in the sector, trust that is developed through effective enforcement, comprehensive and accessible advice and a clear and transparent redress process.”

She added: “The retrofit and renewables market has the potential to grow exponentially in the coming years but alongside that is the potential for high consumer detriment.

“High-profile cases of mis-selling by rogue traders, such those vulnerable consumers targeted by Home Energy & Lifestyle Management Ltd (HELMS), remain unresolved many years on, a position which is unacceptable.

“Citizens Advice Scotland fully supports ambitious moves to make people’s homes warmer while reducing carbon emissions but consumers must be protected if there is to be confidence in the system.”

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