Management consultancy/feasibility study

Traprain was retained by Orkney Housing Association Ltd to provide a detailed report on how renewable energy can provide benefits for the tenants of this registered social landlord, while ensuring that it did not adversely affect the tenants’ tax and/or benefits position. The study was funded by Communities Scotland and was won after competitive tendering. The work was completed within the originally agreed fixed lump sum price, thus ensuring that the client did not have any financial exposure over and above the amount of grant support. 

Traprain continues to provide Orkney Housing Association with advice in this area to help develop its thinking. 

The overall aim is to find ways to develop renewable energy sources in a part of the world that has difficult access to conventional power, and no direct hydrocarbon or hydro-electric resources. While any such development must be commercially viable, the interesting element of the project is that the client was looking to provide benefits for tenants and others, not to make a direct financial return as such. The impact of such benefits on the net incomes of tenants (through the possibility that benefits might be reduced or the tenants would pay increased tax) had to be considered, as did the steps necessary to ensure that the client did not infringe the rules necessary to maintain its charitable status.

The study was carried out as a combination of discussions with the client, desk research and discussions with other interested bodies. The work was performed in collaboration with Linkwide Ltd, part of the Edinburgh-based Link Group, themselves a major Scottish social landlord, which worked on the specialist personal tax and benefits issues. This collaborative approach enabled Traprain to provide the client with expertise of a practical nature from within the social housing sector, and also to channel some of the fee income back into that sector. Traprain provides a non-executive director to the Link Group’s parent company, and has an ongoing interest in, and support for, the social housing sector in Scotland.

Since this work, Traprain is also looking at other renewable energy projects in the same sector in different parts of Scotland. This is a developing market where existing skills and expertise can be put to new uses.