Largest construction firms call for Green Deal rescue plan after terrible five months

A number of the largest firms in the construction industry have written a letter to the main political parties arguing for cross-party action on a Green Deal rescue plan. The move follows the release of first quarter figures for the five month old scheme in which only four Green Deal finance plans were signed off and precisely zero became ‘live’.

The poor take-up is all the more incredible when set against the 38,259 assessments (up to 16 June) that have been carried out up and down the country. What’s more, both the Government and industry insiders have labelled the Green Deal and the accompanying Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) as the flagship measures in a crucial need to upgrade and make energy efficient the existing housing stock.

Paul King, Chief Executive of UK-GBC said:

“We simply cannot let this fail – retrofitting the UK’s housing stock is too important for reducing energy bills, improving health, creating jobs in the construction sector and avoiding costs of new generating capacity – and no one has a credible alternative.”

Bearing in mind the importance, then, the Green Deal portion of the scheme is seemingly underperforming and industry leaders want more done to turn it around. They protest that the interest rate offered under the scheme is off-putting to users, despite the ‘pay back as you save’ function, and that further incentives must be built in to council tax and stamp duty if the programme is to survive.

King added: 

“Business leaders are saying loud and clear that we need to forge a new consensus between politicians of all parties, the private sector and the public around retrofit, to depoliticise something that simply has to be done.

“It will require some tough choices, but it is absolutely in the public and nation’s best interest to address this as a matter of urgency. The Green Deal provides an important foundation to build on.”

Whilst the Green Deal flounders, the six main energy companies have begun apace with settling their Energy Companies Obligations which require them to cumulatively achieve a reduction of 20.9 million lifetime tonnes of carbon dioxide. The scheme ensures they focus on the poorest 15% of homes in the country and properties with ‘hard to treat’ cavities that make installation difficult and expensive.

Chris Newman FRICS, Chartered Surveyor, ECO Assessor and Operations Director of Right Surveyors Asset Management Ltd, commented:

“The Green Deal will have an important part to play in updating Britain’s housing stock, but if results continue to be this poor then the future looks grim for the scheme in its current format. Fortunately, we are dealing with hundreds of reports for hard-to-treat cavities each week, reflecting the strength of the other side of the coin – the Energy Companies Obligation.”

So far in the same period as above, 81,798 measures have been installed – broken down to 54% loft insulation, 33% cavity wall insulation and 10% boiler upgrades – and £131m worth of contracts have been agreed.

An attempt has been made by the Government to incentivise this programme and ‘sweeten the deal’, the Green Deal Cash Back Scheme, whereby those who take up the offer can receive up to £1000 in cashback – but the construction industry evidently believes this is far too little to make the required impact.

Much then remains to be done before the British people begin to shake hands on the Green Deal.

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The expertise of a Chartered Surveyor is often required for Green Deal assessment and for Chartered Surveyors Reports for ‘Hard to Treat’ cavities, amongst other aspects. Many members of the PropertySurveying.co.uk network carry out such work and can be contacted via the website below.

 www.PropertySurveying.co.uk

SRJ/LCB                                                                                                         02/07/2013

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