Energy & Climate Change Minister Greg Barker announced various measures in preparation for the Green Deal yesterday, giving the market the green light to gear up for its launch in October.
Speaking at Plumb Center’s Green Deal Open Day, he also announced the appointment of a Green Deal oversight body and ombudsman service to oversee consumer protection and green deal standards.
Barker commended Plumb Center’s involvement in the scheme as the company focus on helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to fully participate.
“On Monday we laid before Parliament the final pieces of legislation that will create the framework for the Green Deal to go live in the autumn,” he said.
“Effectively we are giving the green light to the energy efficiency market to allow them to now get on and plan for that roll out.”
The four key policy areas DECC will be working on are strengthening consumer protection, reducing industry burdens (particularly bureaucratic elements of the Green Deal), improving the behind the scenes operation, and fine tuning and revising the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).
Gemserv will run the new Green Deal oversight body in partnership with REAL and will be responsible for the registration of assessors, installers and providers and monitoring compliance with the Green Deal’s Code of Practice.
This will be free of charge for assessors, installers and providers during the first two years of the scheme.
Barker said it was important to ensure that the Green Deal is soundly managed, consumers are protected and that the Green Deal quality mark inspires confidence right across the country.
“We need to make sure all the Green Deal assessors, installers and providers get our stamp of approval to ensure the highest level of consumer protection for householders and businesses under this scheme,” said Barker.
Ombudsman Services has also been appointed as the provider of the Green Deal Ombudsman and Investigation Service.
Barker, who was recently criticised for openly endorsing superstore Tesco on BBC radio, said smaller companies and SMEs were absolutely vital to the Green Deal.
“The Green Deal will be a massive opportunity for businesses of all sizes, but one of my personal priorities is to see the smaller businesses get their fair share of the action too.”
He challenged concerns that the Green Deal could be dominated by large companies and said he was delighted that Plumb Center were holding an event to let SMEs know how they could get involved and start gearing up for delivery.
He said that, in reality, most people don’t go to a national brand, such as Tesco, Marks & Spencer or E.ON, but are recommended someone and hire based on word of mouth.
“What I want to see is a diverse, healthy and highly competitive market,” he said.
However, advertising for the Green Deal will have to come from the private sector, potentially giving companies with more funds available the upper hand in trying to attract customers.
Barker stressed the importance of recommendations and said there will be a responsibility on each local authority to have a Green Deal strategy.
“Seeing is believing,” he said. “Because we’re creating a really well trusted brand, strong consumer protection and a Green Deal mark that will be accessible not just to the big boys but to SMEs as well, I think the consumer will be able to make really good choices about whether they go to an SME and a local provider or a high street brand.
“Having local authorities on board so there’s an appropriate local offer in every part of the country is absolutely key,” he added.
“Local authorities are really well placed to partner and showcase local companies in their areas, SMEs particularly, as reliable partners in the Green Deal.”
Responding to the recent poll by the Green Deal Dialogue Group that suggested the majority of ministers will not be promoting the Green Deal in their constituencies, Barker said he would take any forecasting figures with a pinch of salt.
“No one actually knows what’s going to happen when the Green Deal is launched,” he said.
“I think for a lot of people, consumers, politicians, businesses, it’s only when the Green Deal actually launches, that it becomes real and they can see what it means and they can get their head round it, that they’re going to engage.”
He said there was a timing issue and there was no point in engaging too many people in the Green Deal at this stage when they can’t access it straight away.
“I certainly intend to make sure that all of my colleagues are out there singing the praises of the Deal in their constituencies.”
“Local government, local authorities, working in local communities are going to be absolutely crucial to the roll out,” said Barker, who expects a strategic plan for the roll out of the Green Deal right across the country. He also said that tapping into the home improvement market was essential to achieve the scale of roll out hoped for.
“There ain’t gonna be a big bang in the Autumn,” said Barker.
“We’re going to make sure that there is a carefully managed roll out because we see this as a really big, long term programme so it’s absolutely right that we get the foundations established and we get a really strong consumer experience from the word go.”
He said the response from their consultation was clear: build on a very carefully managed roll out in order to get up to the scale DECC are hoping to make.
“I hope I’m painting an exciting picture for you of the huge economic and business opportunities the Green Deal presents. It is so valuable at a time when many parts of the economy are being challenged,” he added.