The Green Deal offers real business opportunities for tradesmen, according to the Builders' Merchants Federation (BMF), which is working with the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) to promote the scheme.

BMF policy manager, Brett Amphlett, is a key speaker at a series of DECC-hosted breakfast briefings to explain the implications for the supply chain – and how SMEs fit into this new market.

Amphlett is using the opportunity to reassure the hundreds of SMEs present, who fear that big conglomerates will target consumers with offers that cut them out of the equation. His core message is that being a Green Deal Provider may not be as scary as it looks.

"The government says it wants as many as possible to participate in the Green Deal," said Amphlett. "But for most SMEs the idea of becoming a Green Deal Provider is simply unfeasible. Many are grappling with whether or not to become authorised assessors and/or installers, let alone a Green Deal Provider.”

However, the BMF believes that its members must be able to become Green Deal Providers in their own right if they wish. That way, merchants can offer their trade customers an antidote to the vertically-integrated conglomerates that SMEs fear will steal work from existing customers. In tandem with the DECC briefings, BMF is explaining to merchants the requirements and implications of becoming a Green Deal Provider, so they can gear up ready to take advantage of the initiative.

One of BMF’s key messages is that it doesn’t matter if SMEs are not ready to compete from 1 October. There will be a learning curve for big national names as well as SMEs. Smaller players, like merchants, who take the time to study the market as it evolves during the first six months will be in a far better position to enter with a proposition that resonates with consumers.

Amphlett continued: “SMEs must play to their strengths. They are often in direct contact with property owners, which means they are handily placed to advise customers about what work could be appropriate when they modify, renovate buy or sell property: the so-called trigger points for Green Deal work.

“The transition to the Green Deal is concentrating the minds of all those in the supply chain. A fundamental change in thinking is underway, because it forces the trades out of their comfort zone. Window replacement and external wall insulation firms have a lot in common so they ought to start forming working alliances.

“Merchants will evolve from just selling products to offer a service or package. For some, this means further investment in staff to train them as qualified assessors and develop the ‘soft skills’ needed in dealing with householders.

“The USP of merchants and their trade customers is we are already in people’s homes – literally – to deliver materials or carry out RMI work.”