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Hooray for Boris – and others

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.

There’s no shame in using someone else’s idea if it was a good one that worked. So well done Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and DECC for piggy-backing on the splendid Boiler Scrappage Scheme from 2010 to launch the London Boiler Cashback Scheme.

Plumbing and heating merchants had better get ready for an influx of business from Londoners because, unlike the Green Deal, this is a scheme that works with the industry as it currently stands.

It’s run on a voucher system, administered by the Energy Savings Trust and householders need to get quotes from installers registered with either Gas Safe Register or Micro-Generation Certification Scheme (or equivalent) or who are in a competent persons’ scheme such as OFTEC or HETAS. You need to be replacing a gas, LPG, oil or solid fuel boiler that’s 70% or less efficient with one that’s 90% efficient, whether it be gas; condensing oil boiler; air source or ground source heat pump; solar thermal system combined with an eligible boiler replacement; or boiler with a passive flue heat recovery device

The reason that this particular scheme – and the earlier one, of which it is a carbon copy – works with the industry instead of against it is that it was designed in conjunction with industry. This industry. Then, as now, the BMF was involved at an early stage to guide Whitehall in how best to design and implement that scheme.

The simplicity of it is the prime reason it was so successful in replacing over 118,000 old boilers.

The Green Deal didn’t work because – and I can’t believe how often I have said this – it was made overly complicated and overly expensive, with too many hurdles and without any real understanding of how the industry works in practice.

The London Cashback Boiler Scheme is great if you’re a plumbers merchant in Hackney; less so if you’re in Hastings or Harrogate. However, the fact that it has happened at all is testament to what can happen if you plug away behind the scenes, having a word in the right ear at the right time.

The BMF has been campaigning for an end-of-life scheme for boilers since the Scrappage Scheme stopped. Right through the Coalition Government in fact, especially when it became obvious that most of the money being spent under the Green deal and the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund was going on new boilers.

The hope is that in addition to the Mayor’s offer, energy suppliers will match it by offering their own £400 discount. If so, applicants can obtain £800 towards replacing their boiler that typically costs around £2,300 to complete. This equates to a potential saving of a third of the cost.

In an ideal world, of course, there would be the money available to offer such a scheme across the entire country. Even better, were we to have a coherent, fabric-first approach to improve the thermal and energy performance of homes and workplaces. But, until the Bonfield Review is completed, and we know what “Son of Green Deal” might look like, this is a reasonable start

About Fiona Russell-Horne

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

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