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We said there’d be tears…

All our yesterdays have lighted fools,
the way to dusty death

We all knew that the Government’s cack-handed reorganisation of the way energy companies fund energy efficiency improvements to meet their carbon emissions targets would end horribly.

And, for the 670 workers at Mark Insulation it has.

We all knew that tinkering with CERT and the rest of the subsidy schemes would have far reaching implications. the headlines – including some of our very own, have long warned of the dramatic drop-off in insulation work since the Government ditched the CERT and Warm Front schemes, replacing them with the Green Deal and ECO.

Neither of which, it has to be said, have done what they promised at the outset. Especially since, in ECO’s case, the available funding was stretched to cover four years’ of work instead of two.

Mark Group is cutting more than a quarter of its 2,500-strong UK workforce after the shake-up to the Government grants scheme. The company has seen the amount of home insulation being installed through the Energy Companies Obligation scheme reduced by a third.

The only surprise in this is that it’s taken this long to be felt out in the wider marketplace. I’m sure there will be more. While there is still insulation work being carried out, more and more it is being done by the energy companies in partnership with other ‘partners’, including local authorities and large housing associations.

However, the large energy companies are so big and wield such power with onerous compliance and complicated due diligence procedures that the actual payment to contractors is way, way, way down the line. I’ve heard of one contractor who has been waiting 6 months for his £1.5m.

A lot of companies are still owed a lot of money. And when that situation goes on for too long, you get problems such as Mark Insulation is dealing with.

Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Sustainable Energy Association, said the Mark job cuts were “a direct result of short term changes in Government policy, driven by hasty politics”.

And now comes the news that Superglass Holdings are investigating their options with regards to offers received for their principle trading concern – that’ll be the making of insulation then – in order to see how they can best maximise returns for shareholders. So far, the offers have not been deemed to value the business sufficiently. But is it just a matter of time?

Somehow, saying to the Government “I told you so” ought to make one feel better than it does, surely.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

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

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