MCS Scheme Redevelopment: Consultation Outcome
OUR SCHEME CONSULTATION HAS CONCLUDED!
MCS has set out to pursue a Mission to “give people confidence in low-carbon energy technology by defining, maintaining and improving quality.” To help meet our Mission, we’ve undertook a rigorous review of MCS, the way the scheme operates and the delivery of consumer protections. The conclusion of this review has led to a proposed redevelopment of the scheme which we now invite your views on as we launch a consultation.
The proposals outlined in our consultation aimed to reduce the complexity of the Certification Scheme that sits around MCS Standards, and to reset the Scheme’s consumer protections to give people the confidence that they need to engage with small-scale renewables. Certification should not be a barrier to industry entry, or a purely administrative burden to contractors. As demand for small-scale renewables grows we want to ensure the delivery of high quality, compliant installations with embedded safeguards for consumers.
With strong industry support, MCS will now proceed with the development of the new scheme, Standards and associated documents and processes. These will be published before the end of 2023. Then, following a period of transition the redeveloped scheme will launch in Summer 2024.
We ran a six-week consultation on proposals to redevelop the scheme, seeking views from contractors, consumers, manufacturers and independent experts on how we should shape the future of MCS.
This consultation ran from 5 June to 17 July 2023
This document provides a complete summary of responses MCS received to the Scheme Redevelopment Consultation. It offers an in-depth analysis of each proposal, the feedback we received in relation to it, whether or not we will be proceeding with it, and how it might be amended before implementation.
The document also serves as a broad overview of next steps for the implementation of the redeveloped MCS contractor Scheme, and how and when these changes will take place.
The Impact Assessment sets out how existing MCS documents and standards will change. Included is a detailed breakdown of how and why documents will be replaced, removed, or retained and how we’ll transition to new scheme operations.
You will also find an explanation of the objectives for each of the changes, and their intended effects as well as an assessment of how consumers, contractors and certification bodies will be affected by the changes.
DETAIL OF OUTCOME
Proposal 1: New scheme structure – SUPPORTED
- We’ll introduce Scheme Rules and Customer Duty, but following feedback they will likely have different names.
- MISs will be stripped back to become ‘technical truths’ and will be supported by Pre-sale Information and System Performance Estimate Standard relevant to each technology.
- Consumer Code membership will no longer be mandated as a requirement for MCS certification. This will take effect from Summer 2024.
Proposal 2: Certificates for replacement, extended and adopted systems – PARTIALLY SUPPORTED
- MCS will allow for the certification of replacement systems. Contractors must indicate which installations are replacements on the MID.
- MCS will also allow for the certification of adopted systems where a certified contractor has been unable to deliver a certified system. Another contractor will complete the installation.
- Following feedback, we will not allow for the certification of extended systems as part of the scheme changes.
Proposal 3: Risk-based compliance assessments – SUPPORTED
- MCS will reset our compliance assessments to focus on delivered quality of a contractor’s installation, rather than the quality of their paperwork or assessing a QMS.
- We will introduce a scheme-wide Compliance Risk Model to determine how often each contractor will be assessed.
- We will define risk indicators for the Compliance Risk Model, which will include but won’t be limited to, reviewing business practice and history, business size, new business activity (such as relocating or opening another site), history of complaints, history of whistleblowing, and duration of certification.
Proposal 4: Technical responsibility for each installation – SUPPORTED
- The current requirement for a least one single Nominated Technical Person (NTP) for each technology installed by a contractor will be replaced with a requirement for list of Technical Supervisors.
- Every contractor must name a specific Technical Supervisor on the MID for each and every installation they complete.
- The name of the Technical Supervisor will not appear on the certificate, or outside of the MID.
Proposal 5: Pending (conditional) certification – NOT SUPPORTED
- Feedback highlighted concerns that only small contractors are affected by the difficulty of finding a first installation and the requirement for a £5,000 bond means that Pending Certification is not a solution to this problem as it is not affordable.
- Concerns were also raised that a contractor is either certified or not certified, and anything in-between would only confuse consumers.
- Therefore, we will not go ahead with this proposal, but will explore other solutions, including some provided in the consultation responses.
Proposal 6: MCS Contractor Agreement – SUPPORTED
- MCS will replace the current sub-licensing agreements with the new MCS Contractor Agreement. This means the contractor will sign an agreement directly with MCS rather than with their Certification Body.
- This will improve the direct relationship between MCS and contractors, rather than us being removed from our certified contractors, but will also allow us to hold contractors to account more easily should they fall short of our standards.
Proposal 7: Centralised complaint management – SUPPORTED
- We will centralise the scheme’s complaints and dispute management. This will allow us to be more directly involved in supporting consumers when something goes wrong, but also supporting contractors with vexatious complaints.
- We will partner with Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) experts to advise us on escalated high-level complaints.
- We will extend our implement an outbound contact programme to contact every consumer purchasing a certified system for feedback on their installation and experience of and their contractor. This builds on the work the Outbound team have undertaken with Ofgem for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
Proposal 8: Implementation of new financial protections – PARTIALLY SUPPORTED
- We will progress plans to develop a design for the MCS Guarantee, to act as a fund of last resort to remediate an installation problem when all other protections failthe contractor has left the scheme or is no longer trading. Full plans will follow in the near future.
- We will not mandate the requirement of Insurance-Backed Guarantees (IBGs), but contractors may optionally choose to use them. We will provide guidance to contractors.
- Note that the decision to implement the MCS Guarantee will not be made until we have a clear design that we believe can provide for the confidence consumers say they are looking for before investing in low-carbon technology.
Proposal 9: Retirement of existing documents – SUPPORTED
- At the point the new scheme launches, we’ll retire these existing documents: MCS 001-1, MCS 001-2, MCS 025, and MGD 001.
- They will be replaced by the new documents described in Proposal 1.
If you wish to comment on our consultation outcome, you may do so via email or by writing to us. Please state whether you are contacting us as an individual or an organisation and if you want any information you provide to be treated as confidential.
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