The launch of the Coalition’s flagship green energy project is “in tatters” after a Government minister admitted that not a single household has yet registered for the deal.
The Green Deal encourages homeowners to take out a loan to make their house more energy-efficient. The project goes live in 10 weeks but households have had since October 1 to have their home assessed for the scheme prior to its launch.
However Greg Barker, the climate change minister, has admitted that “no assessments have yet been lodged” on the Government’s official register by homeowners.
Luciana Berger, the shadow climate change minister, described the Green Deal as a “shambles” and said its launch is “lying in tatters”. The Coalition hopes that owners of up to 14 million draughty homes will sign up to the scheme.
Last night the energy industry called on the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to launch an urgent marketing campaign to alert homeowners to the scheme.
Angel Knight, the head of Energy UK, which represents energy companies, said that members of the public are simply unaware of the Green Deal: “If you ask people what they think of the Green Deal they will say ‘I don’t know what it means, will you tell me about it?’”
Mr Barker made the disclosure in an answer to a parliamentary question by Ms Berger. She asked him how many in-house assessments have been carried out since that part of the scheme launched at the start of October.
Mr Barker answered: “Green Deal assessments are completed when they have been conducted in the property and the results are lodged on the Energy Performance Certificate register, through software developed specifically for occupancy assessments. While we understand a number of appointments for the in-property assessments have been made, no assessments have yet been lodged on the register.”
The Green Deal is the Government’s flagship policy to make homes more energy efficient and – ultimately – cut energy bills, which have soared in recent years. This week British Gas raised prices for the 10 million homes it supplies, and other large companies have done the same.
Under the Green Deal people can borrow up to £10,000 from a private sector loan provider and have loft and wall insulation fitted in their homes. The loan is repaid over a period of up to 25 years through higher bills. The idea is that bills will fall once the loan has been paid off because the houses need less energy.
Central to the deal is the ‘golden rule’, which states that the expected savings that a homeowner ultimately makes must be equal to or greater than the cost of the work being done.
Speaking in June 2011, Mr Barker said that the Green Deal would be “the biggest home improvement programme since the Second World War”.
Homeowners could book an assessment from October 1 and the scheme actually launches on January 28. However the slow start has made people nervous.
In an effort to kick-start interest, DECC last month announced a £125 million ‘cashback’ scheme, offering homes up to £1,000 if they sign up as ‘early adopters’.
Ms Berger said that homeowners are being put off by the Deal’s complicated finance arrangements: “The scheme had the potential to create thousands of jobs and help everyone lower their energy bills. Instead bungling ministers have squandered this opportunity by designing a scheme that is a bad deal for the public and doing nothing to promote it.”
As well as lack of interest from homeowners, building companies are also shying away from getting involved.
According to the Federation of Master Builders, the UK’s biggest building trade body, only one firm from its 10,000-strong membership has signed up to become an accredited Green Deal installer.
Brian Berry, the chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “Only one building company [that is a FMB member] has signed up to become an installer out of 10,000 because that demonstrates the lack of a market.”