Our MD, Chris Hopkins is calling for newly appointed MP Amber Rudd to revolutionise the Green Deal in her new role and here’s why…
The appointment of Amber Rudd as Secretary of State for the Department of Energy & Climate change (DECC) is the chance for the Government to finally get it right when it comes to the Green Deal. While well-meaning, the scheme simply hasn’t been structured, communicated or delivered in the most effective way by the previous Coalition Government, something we passionately want to change.
Getting it right could have a major impact on anyone involved in the roofing and insulation business, so should be an issue you care about as much as me.
When you look at the figures on the uptake of the Green Deal so far, it makes for some pretty poor reading, and the Government has, rightly, come under some real scrutiny for spending millions of pounds in promoting it, despite a very limited uptake.
Industry figures show that as of last November, just 2,581 households have had measures installed under the Green Deal, which represents fewer than 1% of the households who had a Green Deal assessment. Not only that but DECC has spent a reported £3m since October 2013 in advertising and PR to promote the scheme. That to me seems like a very poor return on investment – especially when we’re in an industry – that should be at least – obsessed with ROI.
So, why is it that so few homeowners have taken advantage of the Green Deal, despite it offering some major benefits to both the pockets of consumers and the environment?
As a starting point, Green Deal finance should have been set at 0%, not set the current levels of 7.9% – 10.3% APR. A straight-up 0% would have meant the Green Deal carried much more appeal to the general public rather than pandering to the finance companies. We’ve just launched 12-months interest-free credit at Ploughcroft, and the interest has been phenomenal. We’d expect the same reaction with the Green Deal.
The scheme has also suffered from too many barriers to entry, something that has put many people off taking advantage of it. A Green Deal assessment – which is required before funding is applied for – costs nearly £200. This is a lot of money and in our view is unnecessary, especially when an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – which many people have already in place when they buy their home – is just as effective.
Another key issue is that the Government’s checks on Green Deal providers has been nowhere near thorough enough. As it stands, providers are only assessed every 12-months. As anyone in construction will understand, a lot can change in a year, and as a result, this unfortunately has meant a minority of unscrupulous companies have got involved, delivering a poor quality of work. This has inevitably brought the scheme into disrepute, putting off many homeowners from taking part. Providers should be assessed monthly, which would keep them on their toes, and provide homeowners with much more reassurance.
Clear communication to the general public is also important, and Ms Rudd is doing herself no favours with her recent comments around ‘unleashing a solar revolution’. While well-meaning, these are ultimately ill-informed and have served to confuse consumers. One of the biggest issues we see here at Ploughcroft is home owners installing solar panels before they have tackled the more fundamental issue of loft and wall insulation. This approach means that their money is literally ‘going through the roof’. The message should therefore be much clearer: ‘insulate before you generate’.
However, let’s be clear, despite the mistakes made along the way, the Green Deal has the potential to be incredibly positive for the UK, improving old and cold homes and saving millions each year. Amber Rudd in her new role now has the opportunity to make it work, and we should all urge her to ensure that 2015 is the year that the Green Deal truly reaches tipping point.
Whatever your political allegiance, now is the time for the new Government to make their mark, and create a lasting legacy when it comes to the UK’s green credentials. As a leading energy efficiency company, we would very much like the chance to meet Ms Rudd, and offer our advice on what we believe can truly make the green deal work. And for anyone involved in the roofing and insulation business, it is in your interest to take a proactive approach when it comes to lobbying for these changes, as they could benefit us all.