Builders merchant organisation the Builders Merchants’ Federation is working to prevent the interests of members from being damaged from the Government’s highly-publicised Green Deal initiative.
The BMF believes the Green Deal as it currently stands relies too heavily on big corporate names and favours vertically integrated businesses – such as energy companies – that will dominate the marketplace from the outset with a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach.
BMF staff are mobilising members to pull together an industry alternative to the threat posed by energy suppliers and major high street retailers. The core message is that big corporates cannot be allowed to exclusively provide goods and services – especially via control of independent assessors.
The Green Deal is designed to allow householders to pay for improvements to the energy performance of their homes without paying the up-front cost, paying back the ‘loan’ via their utlitiy bills.
Big Six energy suppliers already have a competitive advantage over merchants because they hold information on gas and electricity billpayers. They can mine the data to directly target householders with offers.
In written evidence to Parliament, the BMF argues that legislation must create a wider, deeper and longer market to allow merchants and their trade customers to participate in improving the thermal performance of homes and workplaces. Jobs, sales and growth depend on it becoming a success.
Brett Amphlett, BMF Policy Manager, says: “We cannot have the consequences of allowing Government proposals to go unchallenged.
“For us, this is all about trying to prevent – or at least, minimise or mitigate – the effects of the usual suspects invading merchant markets. A merchant-led response is imperative if we want an antidote to the continuing threat from vertically-integrated businesses”.
“We urge all members to unite behind our efforts to pull together a merchant-led response. If not, it is unlikely there will be a wide range of providers in the market that ministers say they want – meaning little or no scope for merchants and SME firms to participate”.
“We are pressing the Government to decide on what nudges, triggers and incentives it plans to entice voters – especially ‘early adopters’. Council Tax and Stamp Duty are often quoted – but we believe 5% VAT is the single most important policy lever to boost Green Deal uptake”.
DECC Minister, Greg Barker MP, told the Commons: “I really appreciate the way the industry has got involved on this important issue. Voices such as the Builders Merchants’ Federation are essential in helping us to design the Green Deal so that big companies and local SMEs can get involved while at the same time offering strong consumer protection”.