Faero blames government changes to scheme

An energy assessment firm that was working with the government on home information packs (Hips) has gone into liquidation.Faero ceased trading two weeks ago after a battle to retain control over the energy certificate accreditation part of the scheme.

The firm was appointed by the communities department in February last year to set up an official accreditation scheme for energy calculations in accordance with building control regulations.

Faero says the department had assured it that the scheme would be extended to cover the energy performance certificate (EPC) in the Hips. Companies wishing to train EPC inspectors would therefore have done so under Faero’s scheme.

However, the government’s decision to simplify the requirements of the EPC meant that Faero’s scheme was no longer relevant to Hips and that other companies could also accredit assessors. The company stopped trading on 22 August, claiming it would not have enough work to continue.

Its board had written to the communities department in June, warning that its plans to allow other firms to accredit EPC inspectors risked damaging the Hips scheme.

The letter said: “If other schemes are allowed to operate to different standards the consumer will not be protected from poor-quality EPCs.”

It could have applied to become an EPC assessor, but wanted more

Government source

An energy industry source said: “This is gross mismanagement by the communities department. Faero had the rug pulled out from under it. Allowing any entity to accredit EPCs means standards will degenerate to the lowest common denominator”

Faero’s collapse was complicated by the fact that its company secretary, Richard Theobald, was one of the surveyors suspended from his role on the Hips advisory panel last month because of a potential conflict of interest.

Theobald was a former director of the Surveyors and Valuers Accreditation (Sava) scheme, which was the first company allowed to accredit home inspectors. The National Audit Office has launched an inquiry into the matter.

A government source said: “No organisation should have a monopoly on the industry, which is what Faero would have had. It could have applied to become an EPC assessor, but wanted more.”

A communities department spokesperson said: “This is a commercial decision for Faero. We have processes in place to ensure all energy assessors meet the highest standards through training and accreditation.”

Faero could not be contacted for comment.