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Goodbye Green Deal Road

So farewell to the little good you bear me. Farewell! a long farewell, to all my greatness!

How many of us have been told all our lives that mistakes and errors are fine to make as long as you learn from them and don’t keep making them.

So, with that in mind, what lessons have we learned from the gestation, birth, painful adolescence and untimely death of the Green Deal?

To re-cap, the Government announced last week that it would be funding neither the Green Deal Finance Company (which it had already had to bail out once before) nor the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (long since out of money anyway).

We’ve learned:

  • householders are far more likely to invest in the fabric of their homes if you give them cold, hard cash upfront, rather than the promise of lower fuel bills later on.
  • if you make a scheme too complicated to administer and understand, you limit its appeal from the get-go.
  • you need to get the whole supply chain involved and engaged with schemes before you try and get to the homeowners.
  • If you’re going to arrange some kind of loan scheme, make sure that the interest rate you’re charging is comparable with mainstream high street rates
  • Don’t add extra complications like ‘the loan stays with the house’ which might put people off if they think it might be a barrier for potential house purchasers

    6. You really need to think about the transition from any existing schemes (possibly called CERT or Warm Front) and how any sudden cessation could devastate an industry that depends on those schemes.

    There were too many barriers put in front of people for the scheme to work smoothly. For starters, the requirement that the work be carried out only by officially sanctioned, Green Deal approved installers immediately discounts any tradesmen who don’t want the extra paperwork or who are busy enough with their existing customers to jump through anymore hoops. And by excluding them, the scheme also automatically excluded anyone who has a trusted relationship with those tradesmen.

    I’m a case in point. I’ve just replaced a 30 year old floor standing gas boiler with a lovely shiny new condensing one, added TRVs to all the radiators and insulated the dickens out of every wall, floor ceiling I could. I’d be the prime target for the Green Deal you’d think and certainly for getting some bunce back under the GDIF. However, when I tried to find a Green Deal registered installer, the nearest ones to me were 25 miles away (it may be different now) and were solar specialists, not the all-rounders I really needed.

    The Government now has a fantastic opportunity to start again and come up with a decent scheme that encourages householders to invest in their homes, that uses the expertise of the industry, that works for the whole supply chain and that actually goes someway towards reducing fuel poverty and our excessive use of energy to heat our homes.

    However, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it. Is it too cynical of me to wonder if this Government is rather less interested in achieving any of this and rather more interested in cutting yet more spending.

  • About Fiona Russell-Horne

    Fiona Russell-Horne
    Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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