SWEP Communique - SWEP update regarding review of the Home Modifications Panel

17 April 2019

Following development of a revised operating model for its administration of Home Modifications, the State-wide Equipment Program (SWEP) established a panel of providers, known as the SWEP Builders and Tradespersons Panel. An open Expression of Interest process was undertaken and the Panel commenced operation in October 2017.

At its outset, the SWEP Builders and Tradespersons Panel sought improved reliability, accessibility, safety, capability, accountability, value and consumer outcomes in home modifications and greater protection for home owners. SWEP wishes to acknowledge the enthusiasm, commitment and support the SWEP Builders and Tradespersons Panel have provided to SWEP and our consumers since inception.

Following significant feedback and analysis of the Panel arrangement, SWEP has subsequently undertaken an extensive review of the SWEP Builders & Tradespersons Panel.  Factors impacting the Panel have been varied, and both external and internal stakeholder feedback has been considered in this review. Common themes as well as stakeholder specific issues have emerged.

The Panel operated through a period of regulatory and environmental change in the domestic building industry but was initially effectively constrained in that it was unable to supply sufficient services to meet the sector demand. As of July 1, 2018, changes to the VBA's regulations required registration of building companies. The impact of this on the Panel has been significant, overnight 30% of panellists were no longer able to quote/undertake complex works over $10,000.   One of the issues SWEP sought to address in the establishment of the Panel was reliable and equitable access to builders regardless of geographic location, and this has clearly been impacted as a result of this regulatory change.

Even when initially established, it is apparent the number of panellists was insufficient to meet demand and this underlying supply vs demand imbalance has grown with regulatory changes and the inability of the panellists to adapt, through more competitive supply arrangements or pricing structures. The simple effect has been that there is now an inadequate number of suppliers to provide efficient quoting/undertaking of works, with some areas of Victoria under-resourced.

As such, the decision has been made not to continue the Panel model post June 30, 2019.

We do wish to assure stakeholders of our commitment to protecting the rights of our consumers during this change and will be implementing a simpler, less onerous process. Consumers will be able to select their preferred builder quotations for submission, while SWEP will retain the capacity for confirmation of key elements, such as checking builder registration and insurances; commitment to contractual obligations where they exist and as such provide some protection for home owners.

Stay tuned to this space for further updates about process changes after the 30 June 2019, up until then, it's business as usual.

If you would like any further information in relation to this decision please feel free to contact Jeni Burton, Jeni.Burton@bhs.org.au or 03 5333 8101.

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