The government's flagship energy efficiency scheme is officially underway, with the launch of the Green Deal on 28 January.
While businesses and industry bodies have welcomed its arrival and the opportunity it presents to update Britain's housing stock and create new jobs, there are those who are not convinced the Green Deal will deliver without further support.
Energy & Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said the Green Deal is a fantastic scheme which will transform the energy efficiency market as we know it.
“It’s not just consumers who will benefit. The Green Deal is also great for business, creating a new market and new jobs. I’m truly excited about the potential the Green Deal has to transform Britain’s buildings,” he said.
The government also unveiled its communications campaign ‘Green Deal with it’ to help inform people about the benefits of the scheme and how they can sign up, details of which can be found on the DECC Promoting the Green Deal page.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com said: “Green Deal has the potential to help consumers afford energy against a backdrop of escalating fuel bills. Our surveys tell us that many people simply do not know how to make their homes more energy efficient. They also need assurance about the quality of any work done, and help with funding.
“Green Deal ensures that accredited professionals do the work, backed by strong consumer protection. It also provides the financing, so will enable hard-pressed consumers to go ahead with confidence, providing much needed protection against rising bills.”
There are currently 25 registered Green Deal Providers, 49 registered Green Deal Assessors and 572 registered Green Deal Installers.
Annmarie Blomfield, managing director of registered assessor One Green Place said: “We have already done over 200 assessments and are very excited about the future with Green Deal as we have 1,800 assessments waiting in the wings.”
Operating nationally with a network of local qualified energy advisors, Ampere GDP has also taken advantage of the soft launch to start assessments, and has a further 200 lined up for the next few weeks.
“We’re a family run business and see the Green Deal as an exciting opportunity for both the customer and construction industry,” said Brendan Ashford, managing director of Ampere GDP.
Neil Schofield, head of external and governmental affairs Worcester Bosch Group, said UK homeowners have been crying out for a positive commitment from the government, looking to them to offer a sensible solution on how they can increase the efficiency of their homes.
The Green Deal ticks that box,” he said. “Certainly for the heating industry, the Green Deal has become the ‘main show in town’ and this is now a massive opportunity for us to make it a success. For the boiler industry alone, approximately 5,000 installations take place on a daily basis, so the opportunity for the industry to enhance the collective heating efficiency of UK homes is clear to see,” he added.
“We are now geared up and looking forward to engaging with installers nationwide ensuring there are enough accredited professionals in place to make the Green Deal a success.”
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) welcomed the Green Deal launch, saying in principle it is good for the environment and great for the economy, but said that without more support, training and publicity the government risks this policy becoming a “damp squib”.
The association said government needs to involve more small, local builders in the work, as red-tape and negative publicity threaten to scupper the Green Deal before it gets off the ground.
Just over a quarter of small- to medium-sized construction firms are planning to get involved in the Green Deal according to a recent survey by the FMB, but many said the application and accreditation process was overly complicated, while householders were unaware of the potential benefits due to a lack of positive publicity about the scheme.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Trusted local trades are ready and willing to help homeowners fit energy-saving measures such as double-glazing and insulation. However, many have expressed frustration that it is not easy for smaller firms to get involved in Green Deal work, and that there hasn’t been a marketing campaign to explain to householders what the Green Deal is all about.
“People want to use their local builder to have energy-efficient improvement work carried out, because they know them and have used them before. But the scheme has been designed so large numbers of small firms are excluded because of the significant costs involved in offering Green Deal finance directly to homeowners. Instead local firms will have to find a large finance provider to work with, rather than getting started on work which would boost the economy and help home-owners save money on their fuel bills.”