The Department of Energy and Climate Change have released the first quarterly Green Deal statistics, which have been met to mixed response by leading industry professionals. These statistics show that almost 40,000 people so far have had an assessment carried out.

The key figures for up to the 16th June are:

  • 38,259 homes have had a Green Deal assessment
  • A rise in assessments every month: 7,491 in March, 9,522 in April, 12,146 in May
  • 241 customers have obtained a quote from a Green Deal Provider and have confirmed they wish to make energy efficient improvements to their home
  • Four customers have signed up to a Green Deal Plan and progress is being made to install energy efficient measures
  • 961 people have claimed cashback for a new boiler installation – 902 gas and 59 oil boilers
  • 1,254 installer organisations are accredited and qualified to work within the Green Deal.
Plumb Center's Head of Sustainability Tim Polland has praised these figures, remarking that "40,000 assessments is a significant marketplace and installers will know that represents more than a fad – I can’t imagine any installer not thinking it’s a good thing." He expressed optimism that the scheme would continue to grow past "those who are passionate about the scheme" and that stressed:"...the people at the heart of Green Deal knew it wasn’t going to produce a tsunami of demand at the start, it was going to be a scheme of longevity and the time to judge is at its end, not its beginning."

On the other side of the argument, HHIC (Heating & Hotwater Industry Council) Director Roger Webb considered the figures "very disappointing". He went on to say: "However, on a positive note, they will be a wake-up call for the government to simplify the scheme and to really engage with the small installer. It is not too late for the Green Deal as the scheme has hardly got off the ground and further action will be required to reform the scheme. The heating industry from the success of the cashback incentive want to stress that figures prove that changing a boiler is one of the key routes to gain consumer interest in the Green Deal and enabling further measures to be taken up."

Meanwhile, earlier last week it was revealed that a cross-section of industry leaders had written to all three main political parties in an attempt to persuade them to come together to ensure that the Green Deal doesn't fail. The letter was addressed to energy secretary Ed Davey (Liberal Democrat), minister Greg Barker (Conservative) and shadow energy minister Luciana Berger (Labour) can be viewed in its entirety below;

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We are taking the unusual step of writing the same letter to all three of the main political parties, setting out our major concerns with current retrofit policy and our belief that we can only address this most urgent of challenges with a greater degree of cross party consensus, and collaboration between government and industry.

Government’s own figures show that meeting our legally binding carbon targets requires a high level of retrofit across the UK’s 26 million domestic properties, at an average of one home per minute between now and 2050. Clearly this is a monumental task, but it also represents a tremendous opportunity: to reduce energy bills, improve health, provide jobs in the construction sector, and avoid additional costs of new generating capacity.

However, to have any chance of successfully tackling this, it will require government – either this one, or indeed any future one – to address the following major issues:

Green Deal interest rates: The current rate of interest for Green Deal finance is in danger of acting as a major disincentive to take up, as well as minimising the extent of the measures available in a Green Deal package. Taking inspiration from the effect of recent government intervention to support new build homes, government should explore, with stakeholders, what options are available to reduce risk associated with providing Green Deal finance – even if this means greater intervention in the market.

Long term structural incentives: Even if Green Deal was available at a much lower cost of finance, long term structural incentives would still be needed to ensure sufficient uptake. Council tax or stamp duty could be used to send a signal to consumers and the market on the direction of travel, and both could be applied in a fiscally neutral way to HMT. Regulation could also be used, in particular Consequential Improvements, which government itself has estimated would lead to an additional 2.2 million Green Deals being taken up.

Stakeholder engagement: There needs to be a better on-going dialogue between government and those trying to deliver the Green Deal on the ground, in order to overcome obstacles, reduce unnecessary complexity, identify future issues and learn lessons. At the very least this should take place through a high level industry advisory board co-chaired by a minister and a senior industry figure. It could also involve a more operational body, or ‘hub’, which government has previously expressed support for.

Long-term certainty and political consensus: There is an increasing sense that the Green Deal, and indeed energy bills more generally, are being used as a political football, which is not good for confidence in the market. These challenges will affect any party, or parties, of government and very bold decisions will be required. We believe there needs to be a new consensus forged between the main parties around retrofit, to depoliticise what is ultimately a long-term challenge that it is in the nation’s interest to successfully address.

Yours sincerely,

  • Paul King - Chief executive, UK Green Building Council
  • James Cameron - Chairman, Climate Change Capital
  • Mark Clare - Group chief executive of Barratt Developments Plc
  • John Frankiewicz - CEO, Willmott Dixon Capital Works
  • Peter Hindle - general delegate, UK, Ireland and South Africa, Saint Gobain
  • Ian Marchant - CEO, SSE Plc
  • Gene Murtagh - CEO, Kingspan Group Plc
  • John Sinfield - Chief Executive, Knauf Insulation
  • Russell Smith - Managing director, Parity Projects & acting chairman of RetrofitWorks
  • Nigel Taylor - Chief operating officer, Services, Carillion Plc
  • Peter Walls - CEO, Gentoo

NO! It’s not, is the simple answer.

The number of homes installing cavity wall insulation has crashed by 97% since the government's flagship energy–efficiency scheme was introduced, new figures have revealed. Previous energy-efficiency schemes meant cavity wall insulation – one of the cheapest ways of cutting energy bills and climate-warming carbon emissions, was heavily subsidised or free. But under the Green Deal, which aims to upgrade the efficiency of 14m homes, households have to take out a loan to pay for the measure.

Figures from the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency, which monitors the issue of installations and guarantees, show that only 1,138 installations were completed in April 2013, down from 49,650 in April 2012. The government's own impact assessment predicted in January 2012 that cavity wall insulations would collapse by 67%, but the reality has far outstripped this estimate. Government data shows that 1.4m cavity wall insulations are needed to meet its carbon targets.

This crash shows a "desperate need for financial stimuli for the Green Deal".

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "The Green Deal is an ambitious, long-term programme designed to deliver home improvement in Great Britain on an unprecedented scale." He noted that a cashback scheme currently offers £250 for cavity wall insulation, although this will not cover the total cost. "Additional help for this type of work may also be available for people in hard to treat properties, and those on benefits or low income," he added.

Luciana Berger, the shadow minister for climate change, said: "This staggering collapse in the number of energy-efficiency installations is a disaster for our economy and a body blow for hundreds of small businesses across the country. This is all the more damaging when there are at least 5.8m homes in the UK that still need cavity wall insulation, according to the government's own estimates."

The government's impact assessment also predicted a drop of 93% in loft insulations, the most cost effective energy-efficiency measure of all!

- Mark Jenkins

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) today released the latest Green Deal statistics, and already there has been warnings coming from various different groups and companies.

Insulation company Knauf has warned that according to the current rate, it will take more than 200 years to reach the Government’s 2020 targets. This comes following the revelation that only 2031 more Green Deal assessments place in April than March, suggesting that interest may already be starting to stagnate.

Northern Europe Knauf Managing Director John Sinfield said: “These figures confirm the industry’s worst fears – that the Green Deal has been strangled at birth by the complete lack of any real incentive to encourage uptake amongst householders. If this rate of activity evens out at 10,000 assessments a month it will take 116 years to reach the original DECC aspiration of tackling 14 million homes – and that assumes an optimistic 100 per cent conversion rate from assessment to Green Deal. At a more realistic rate of 50 per cent it will take 232 years to achieve this goal!

“Therefore, our argument to Government is that a significant ‘demand driver’ is urgently needed in order to create momentum amongst householders. The Government claims that the Green Deal is a market driven mechanism yet as currently designed it will only appeal to a small subset of the population. The Green Deal must be made attractive to ALL householders if it is to stand any chance of success. Cashback should be broadened from just Green Deal to all boiler and insulation retrofits.”

However the slow-down in progress could be due to a “severe shortage” of building companies registered as installers, says The Federation of Master Builders in an unrelated assessment based on the same set of statistics. With only 942 companies approved to carry out the work, the FMB has warned that this is nowhere near enough to deliver targets.

Chief executive Brian Berry said: “There are more than 240,000 companies in the construction industry that employ fewer than 14 people. These companies are often best placed to carry out Green Deal work, but because it is difficult to access the market, they are reluctant to train the number of approved installers needed to retrofit Britain’s building stock.

“The Green Deal has now been open for business for almost four months and demand for work under the initiative appears to be growing, but it still feels like a missed opportunity to the majority of SMEs in the industry who haven’t seen any sign of transformation in the energy-efficiency market.”

In order to combat this, the FMB plan to introduce a “Strategy for the Low Carbon Building and Refurbishment Market”. This will involve giving its members better access to the training and certification required to carry out these areas of work.

Sources: Knaufinsulation.co.uk

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