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Welcome back, GDHIF.

I am in blood,Steppd in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go oer.

So. It’s back. Hurrah.

And this time, we are assured, there won’t be the same feeding (feed-in?) frenzy that three was last time.

I’m talking, of course, about the new money that has been pumped into the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund to encourage efficiency minded householders to invest in their homes.

The new money is available from this morning (Wednesday December 10). The timing is almost perfect as the “weather bomb” (where do they get these phrases?) bringing with it cold, snow, rain, wind and yet more cold, is moving across the country, highlighting the inadequate heating and insulation of a worrying number of properties.

This time, we are assured, the staggered way that the funds will be released means there won’t be a repeat of the farcical events of July when the original fund was first reduced and then cancelled within three days.

There is certainly a lot of interest out there in the scheme. The Energy Savings Trust says it’s had a record number of enquiries since the news was issued about the new funding. Most of them are enquiring about eligibility.

The Government’s own figures for September 2014 show that around 995,000 Green Deal measures were installed in around 819,000 properties. Mind you, when you go a little deeper into the figures, it turns out that most of those were through ECO (Energy Companies’ Obligation), which isn’t the same thing as Green Deal. At all.

The last Green Deal Home Improvement Fund had 20,609 active applications in play by the end of October and, of these, 6,687 vouchers had been paid out, the measures having been installed. Of the £16.4m payments from the 3,452 vouchers which were redeemed in October, were mostly for solid wall insulation.

The latest figures are here and they do show that stuff is happening with the schemes, just not very quickly.

When you look at the actual Green Deal figures, it’s not quite so rosy. Some 7,207 households had GD Plans in progress at the end of October 2014, 26% than the 5,736 at the end of September and of these , 2,434 had had the quote accepted, a further 1,534 had had the Plan signed and 3,239 had had all of the measures installed.

Maybe, now that the Home Improvement Fund has been relaunched, we will see a steadier take-up of vouchers and, more importantly, installation of the measures.

Of course, what was wrong with The Green Deal in the first place is still wrong with the Green Deal now, by and large. It’s still over complicated, it still requires an assessment which may or may not end up being free. The funding is still tied to one’s electricity bill on the property and may cause complications if the householder wants to move house. It still requires the work to be carried out by an authorised Green Deal installer, thereby discounting the vast majority of smaller, SME builders for whom the process of registering and checking is simply too onerous, no matter what the perceived rewards.

However, if all this means that more people take steps to make their homes more energy efficient, reducing their energy consumption and bills, all the while putting money into the coffers of builders, contractors, builders merchants and insulation manufacturers, then that’s a good thing, surely.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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