Smart Audit Trial Welcomed by Elmhurst Members
Following yesterday’s announcement that accreditation schemes will be trialling a new ‘Smart Audit’ process from 1st April, Elmhurst is pleased to have received an overwhelmingly positive response from our members who were quick to recognise the obvious benefits this type of auditing will provide. The trial, endorsed by DCLG, will run for three months from April to June and, if successful, is likely to be adopted in the next revision of the Scheme Operating Requirements.
It is widely agreed amongst assessors, Schemes and the industry as a whole that the current Quality Assurance (QA) auditing regime is too bureaucratic and often focuses more on the QA process than the actual quality of the EPC itself. The present system is also overly-complex and is slow to react to specific industry concerns. DCLG has listened to these concerns and agrees that this presents an opportunity to take a fresh approach to QA and adopt an alternative process which is more ‘fit for purpose’.
Smart Auditing is reactive and takes a risk-based approach to QA. Using a defined set of ‘smart rules’, Schemes would be able to target areas of concern, including unusual data inputs or lodgement patterns, and select specific EPCs for audit. Examples could include no heating controls to the main boiler or large number of lodged EPCs with no loft access or overwritten U-Values. Where technical errors are identified, Schemes would ensure that appropriate corrective action is completed by the assessor to ensure these errors are not repeated and, over time, help to increase the quality and consistence of EPCs lodged on the central register. Smart Auditing is also expected to highlight malpractice and fraudulent activity more easily, in which case a strict disciplinary procedure would lead to the assessor being ‘struck-off’ if appropriate.
- The overall level of auditing undertaken by any scheme is unlikely to reduce as Smart Auditing is not designed to save Schemes money.
- However, assessors who produce EPCs to the required standard by following correct RdSAP methodology, Conventions and evidence requirements, may well see a reduction in the number of audit requests they receive.
The vast majority of Elmhurst’s members are passionate about their work and the industry and have often asked for measures to be put in place which will not only improve the overall quality of EPCs but will also reduce instances of questionable activity in the marketplace. Smart Auditing seeks to achieve both of these goals and, if successful, should reduce the overall QA burden of competent assessors whilst Schemes focus their audit activities on the areas which deserve attention. The other great news is that this is also likely to result in more demand for the services of conscientious DEAs as the less scrupulous assessor are driven out of the industry, a situation which Elmhurst’s members have acknowledged is well overdue!
Should you have any questions regarding the Smart Audit trial please don not hesitate to contact our Existing Dwellings Team on 01455 883257 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Full details of the Smart Audit trial can be downloaded here