The Green Deal has just had its first birthday, and unfortunately it hasn't been such a great year for the UK Government's flagship energy efficiency programme. 

Official figures have revealed that only 626 houses have live Green Deal plans in place, which is nowhere near the 10,000 figures minsters were expecting to be in place. As of December, only a total of 1,612 houses had made plans overall.

While assessments had never really been on the rise, they notably declined by 21% during December, which the government attributed to the Christmas holidays. However several leading green energy groups have spoken out against the Green Deal's poor statistics, stressing that the Government needs to try a lot hard in order for it to succeed.

The Federation of Master Builders has given the first year of the Green Deal a "report card" rating of two out of five, commenting that is has "not achieved the desired results in its first full year, with the majority of SME installers and home owners failing to engage". Chief Executive Brian Berry called the financial package "unattractive to most consumers". He also went on to say how the programme simply doesn't stack up against other high-street money saving alternatives such as loans and credit cards available at more competitive rates. His suggestions to improve the Green Deal were:

"The single most effective measure to kick-start demand would be to reduce the rate of VAT from 20% to 5% on all domestic repair and maintenance work, including energy-efficiency improvements. This would be a real incentive to home owners across the board to think about getting a professional tradesperson in to quote on a variety of repair and maintenance projects."

Meanwhile the UK Green Building Council also had things to say about the figures, calling it a "a wake-up call to the Government" that it is not delivering. Chief Excutive Paul King suggested that the Government must "recognise energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority and be prepared to delve into its purse to make its flagship policy more appealing through stronger incentives and more attractive finance options"

But despite its failings, the Government have announced that they plan to stick by the Green Deal, and believe that although its hard a slow start (to put it lightly) 2014 will definitely be the year it takes off. Climate Change minister Greg Barker "acknowledged" that things hadn't developed the way the government had anticipated at a conference yesterday, he still though its first year had been an "encouraging start".

He also commented that the supply chain was now in place, with more than 125 Green Deal providers at the ready along with 2900 individual advisers and 2300 organistations officially approved to carry out installations. Procedures are also set to be simplified by the newly established Green Deal Working Group, with further alterations and improvements to be announced over the coming weeks.

So will 2014 fare better for the Green Deal? It's too early to say, but if these numbers are anything to go by then it doesn't look like it can do much worse.

Though all of Great Britain is shaping up for a construction boom that is predicted to last throughout 2014 and beyond, it's great to hear that the home of Access Training Academies is leading the way. The regional government is reporting that the construction industry here is outperforming the UK as a whole, once again proving that if you're thinking of learning a new trade from a construction training course - now is the time to do so. 

Wales has shown an 8.7% increase over the last four quarters in comparison to the previous four, according the date from the Office of National Statistics. Short term quarterly movements in the construction industry also showed output as increased in Wales by 2.8%.

Welsh economy minister Edwina Hart said: “Together with the latest figures showing an increase in the number of construction jobs in Wales, today’s figures show that the construction sector in Wales is outperforming the UK as whole. Also the Index of Production for Wales shows a 3.1% increase when comparing the latest four quarters to the previous four quarters, while UK output fell by 1.6%.”

With new build projects now starting all across Wales, demand for bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters and tilers is at an all-time high. This boom is expected to continue for years to come, giving skilled labourers job security as well as an eviable wage and a varied and active line of work. However a college course can take years to provide you with the skills and qualifications to turn professional, which is why our range of intensive construction courses is the best solution. We train students to a professional standard, complete with the relevant qualifications, in a fraction of that time - without skimping on any of the quality. 

We also offer a wide variety of scope with our courses - if you'd like to intensively train as a carpenter then our professional carpentry course is right there for you, however if you'd like to try a variety of different trades then you can also build up your own multiskills course. Just let us know what your plans are and we'll do our best to accomodate them.

To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492 or fill in the information form provided on the website. One our of advice team will be in touch shortly to answer any outstanding questions you might have.

One of the most important parts of any good roofing course (or construction training course in general) is knowing what the right safety measures are to put in place before you even begin. However unfortunately there are still companies out there that ignore this and eventually pay the penalities - such as this roofing firm that have appeared in court after being filmed breaking the law by the BBC's investigative programme Watchdog.

Oldham firm Renov8 (North West) Ltd. and company director Darren Potts were prosecuted by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) after the show revealed footage of a worker walking around a sloping roof of a property in Droylsden using a pressure washer without any means in place to prevent them slipping and falling the ground below. Mr Potts was filmed watching the work from below. The two men were also seen walking on the roof of another property in Salford, with no scaffolding or other measures in place to prevent injury in the event of a fall.

Further investigation from the HSE found that Renov8 did not have any employers' liability insurance, which is a legal requirement for all firms. This means that had the employee gotten injured, he would have not been able to claim compensation. The company pleased guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and failing to have employers liability insurance, resulting in a fine of £1000 and £1225 in prosecution costs. Mr Potts himself was sentenced to 200 hours od community service and also had to pay £1225 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Matt Greenly said:

"Renov8 should never have allowed work to be carried out on the roofs of the two bungalows without having suitable safety measures in place. Company director Darren Potts risked not only his own life but the life of an employee by clambering around slippery roofs. Renov8 could easily have hired scaffolding for the work but failed to do this, despite using scaffolding on similar properties in the past.  The company also ignored the law relating to employers’ liability insurance, meaning the employee wouldn’t have been able to claim a penny in compensation if he had been injured."

Via HSE

As we've previously mentioned, Access Training have made a few changes to the way we run the Unvented Cylinders plumbing course recently. With the new City & Guilds syllabus our course follows, students are now required physically commission and maintain a cylinder in order to achieve the qualification. This is important as it will make sure candidates are physically familiar with unvented cylinders rather than just having a theoretical knowledge of how to handle them. Knowing in theory is all well and good, but this is one area inparticularly that can go wrong without the right skills and know-how.

An Unvented Cylinder is a hot water storage system that relies on storage cylinders fed directly from cold water mains and do not incorporate a vent pipe to relieve excess build-up pressure to atmosphere. The pressure for the hot water system is then derived from the mains pressure supply rather than a cold water storage tank. The advantages of using such a system include:

  • Balanced pressure in both hot and cold taps for showers
  • Higher water pressures available for hot taps
  • No storage cistern, eliminating any risk of contamination
  • Can be fitted anywhere in the house, making them suitable for one-storey dwellings
  • Quicker to install with less pipework and no cold storage tanks needed in the loft
  • Can possibly be used with smaller diameter pipework
  • Gives architects and service designers greater flexibility of design

Unvented cylinders are also the only systems currently used with renewable energy supplies such as ground & air heat pumps and underfloor heating, due to their nature of being almost 100% energy efficient. This makes them even more of an important thing as households strive to become greener and save energy (as well as money!).

However despite these numerous advantages installers should still show great caution and care when dealing with unvented cylinders, as failing to properly install them is extremely dangerous. Unvented hot water systems usually operate above atmospheric pressure and unless the right measures are taken to prevent overheating, the results can be quite explosive to say the least. Just have a look at this video of what can happen if adequate checks and protection haven't been made:

VIEW ON YOUTUBE

But don't let this video put you off them. As long as they are installed correctly with all of the proper safety precautions in place unvented cylinders are perfectly safe. All plumbers handling unvented cylinders are required to be qualified in accordance with Part G of the Building Regulations, which can be achieved through the Access Training Academies Unvented Hot Water Cylinders course.

For more information on our Unvented course or our wider range of intensive plumbing courses, please take a look at the plumbing section linked on the left hand side of the page. Alternatively, you can speak to our course advice team to have any questions you may have answered personally - simply call 0800 345 7492 or fill in the information form provided on this website.

2014 is already shaping up to be a big year for Access Training Academies, and today (the 13th January) marks the first steps we'll be taking to make your training experience here even better. This year ACS gas assessments will be returning to our Cardiff training centre.

Now students that complete their gas training at Access will be able to complete their Logic ACS (Accredited Certification Scheme) gas assessments here. ACS is the industry recognised and accepted route for students to enter into the gas industry, earning their gas certificate which is needed to become a member of the Gas Safe Register. This itself is a legal requirement to be able to work on all gas installations and appliances in the UK. These assessments will not only be available to those who have completed an extensive gas course here, but is also open to others who may have completed a gas course elsewhere.

Students will be able to complete both the written and practical assessments required to qualify, covering the CCN1 Core Domestic Gas Safety module and then any of the additional appliance assessments relevant to your area of work. This includes the CENWAT (Central Heating Boilers & Water Heaters) qualification, CKR1 (Cookers), HTR1 (Gas Fires) and more. For a full list of what we can offer you here at Access, please get in contact.

To find out more about ACS gas assessments, our plumbing training or any of the many other trades training courses we provide here at Access please get in contact with our course advice team on 0800 345 7492 or via the form provided on this website. They'll be more than happy to answer any further questions you might have, as well as arrange of a tour of our facilities so you can get a first-hand look at what we do.

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