Bruce Allen’s Insight | October 2023 

Welcome to my insight to the October 2023 HETAS monthly newsletter.

We are nearly through October and the colder weather has certainly arrived. As the cold snap arrived, we saw a marked rise in website sessions, with one of our busiest days this year on the 16th October. Evidence is suggesting that the market remains strong for stoves, with both sales and notifications of installations year on year. Having met with Defra recently, they continue to want the domestic burning sector to promote responsible burning, this is vital when considering that the Environment Improvement Plan highlights there are no intentions to ban domestic burning. If there isn’t to be a ban, we must all do our upmost to promote responsible burning.  

Recently I’ve had discussions with registered businesses about the role of HETAS and the support we provide to our registered businesses. HETAS operates as a certification body, so our role is slightly different to that of a trade association, but we are just as passionate about supporting you, our registered businesses, to enable your business to do a good job and grow. 

As you will know, HETAS is a not-for-profit organisation (company limited by guarantee without share capital). Our purpose is ‘working together for a cleaner and safer environment’. As part of our work, we operate our industry leading competent person scheme in England and Wales, the only scheme to specialise in the installation of solid fuel and biomass appliances. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) oversees authorising all competent person schemes (including windows and doors, electric, oil, roofing, plumbing & heating and combustion). To make sure that the standards are consistent, there are rules that scheme operators must follow and conditions they must meet.  

To be registered with a competent person scheme, installers need to demonstrate that they meet the relevant minimum technical competence requirements. To assess this, HETAS undertakes training and assessment of our installers, as you would have experienced during your registration with HETAS. Amongst our work as a competent person scheme, we are required to undertake surveillance of our installers work, including carrying out random assessments of a representative sample of work, during or after completion, to check compliance with the Building Regulations. To support this, we must have effective sanctions for dealing with non-compliance with the Regulations and breaches of scheme rules. Additionally, we are required to have a robust and publicised process for handling complaints. This process must comply with BS EN ISO standard 17065:2012. This complaints process must be impartial, we cannot favour one side or the other, but will work to establish facts and assess installations in accordance with Building Regulations and support all parties in ensuring a safe and compliant installation. We are independently assessed by the United Kingdom Accreditation Services to ensure our compliance with the 17065 standard and its requirements. In addition to our installer schemes, we have a growing approved retailer scheme, the recently revised sweep and service scheme, biomass maintenance and our product certification schemes, including Cleaner Choice certified stoves and boilers. 

We truly value our registered and certified businesses and work hard to support you. Our retention rate of businesses remains incredibly high and we have had many businesses on our schemes for well over 15 years. HETAS provides a dedicated technical helpline team to support our registered businesses, led by a team of time served tradespeople who have spent time on the tools, providing ongoing help and advice, ably supported by our standards and certification team, who can aid with product enquiries. This is supported further by our quarterly Technical Bulletins and dedicated Technical Hub. The next Bulletin will be with you shortly.  

Additionally, we provide a range of benefits to our registered businesses including, Prompt Payer, an ethical debt recovery service, which has helped our businesses recover over £750,000 in unpaid debts, along with access to Tide bank and a discount marketplace. We recently sent some guidance out on helping to ensure your business gets paid on time and the support you can receive through Prompt Payer when you haven’t been paid. Make use of this free service that comes with your HETAS registration.  

Research from the Federation of Small Businesses identified that in 2022, 52% of small businesses experienced late payments and that just isn’t right or fair. HETAS has for many years been a signatory on The Prompt Payment Code (PPC). The Code is a voluntary code of practice for businesses, administered by the Office of the Small Business Commissioner (OSBC) on behalf of BAT. It was established in December 2008 and sets standards for payment practices between organisations of any size and their suppliers. 

Paying suppliers or partners promptly and within the agreed payment terms is not only an ethical responsibility but economically beneficial for all parties and the wider economy. Speed and certainty of payment and stable cash flow are essential for all businesses to flourish and grow. 

Under the ethos of the code signatories have always undertaken to: 

  • pay suppliers on time, within agreed terms 
  • give clear guidance to suppliers on terms, dispute resolution and prompt notification of late payment 
  • support good practice throughout their supply chain by encouraging adoption of the Code. 

This month we also had concerns about some rogue traders operating in the southeast of England area who have been creating imitation businesses, mirroring genuine traders in the heating sector, and undertaking substandard work or conning homeowners out of money with no work being undertaken. If you would like to raise a concern regarding a rogue trader, get in touch with the team today. This issue is covered in more detail in this month’s newsletter and you can contact the team if you have concerns about rogue traders on 01684 278170 or email [email protected]. We will continue to work with Trading Standards and push for enforcement through The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, where appropriate.  

Our latest spotlight article takes us north to find out more about ESSE Stoves. Throughout the year we have focused articles on Cleaner Choice manufacturers. This month we find out more about a company with a deep history of making stoves that proudly hold the Made in Britain certification mark. Find out more about ESSE in this spotlight article. 

The HETAS team also had the pleasure of attending the Wood Heat Conference this month, hosted by The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA). It was a vibrant busy two-day meeting for the UK biomass sector, with some engaging discussions and networking.  The recently published Biomass Strategy sets out steps government intends to take to strengthen biomass sustainability and the opportunities for the use of sustainable biomass across multiple sectors of the economy in support of achieving the UK’s net zero target. I welcomed the publication of the Biomass Strategy which confirms governments commitment to biomass and makes sure that when used biomass is sustainable, and contributes to net zero and efficiency while minimising any public health impacts relating to air quality. Through our work with government in recent years we have seen recognition of the importance of biomass, sustainability, fuel quality as well as safety considerations such as installation and boiler maintenance. The HETAS biomass maintenance scheme now has hundreds of businesses registered and thousands of installations have had their planned maintenance undertaken to ensure ongoing compliance with the Renewable Heat Incentive. It was a pleasure to be part of such a vibrant couple of days with the biomass sector. 

Keep an eye on your emails for the upcoming Technical Bulletin and our regular communications and remember that the team is hand to support with your enquiries, be it a technical enquiry, notifications, your registration, a difficult customer or not being paid. We want to hear from you and see how we can help. Contact the team on 01684 278170 or get in touch via the website. 

Login to the HETAS Technical Hub to access a range of resources including, Technical Bulletins and to notify your installations, also read the latest news on the HETAS website.


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