At this point it seems like the Green Deal just can't catch a break. After a humiliating first year it seemed like things were picking up for the Government's flagship energy scheme, but it will now be investigated by Parliament's spending watchdog after it was revealed that a staggering £36 million was spent on the scheme in the last 12 months.
A report from the Independent highlighted some of the spending the scheme made on promotion in February, including:
- Over £300,000 on "consumer demand, marketing and communications". This included a £100,000 rebranding exercise.
- £227,000 to a single consultancy company on Green Deal monitoring and evaluation.
- £20,000's worth of fees to part-time staff helping to run the scheme. This is in addition to the plan's full-time civil servants.
The criticism of the scheme came following the publication of the latest uptake figures for March, released by the DECC last week. While the figures show that there is a rise in households seeking assessments and installing energy-saving measures, the increase perhaps isn't quite enough to have justified this level of spending. The report said that currently 2000 households had plans in progress by the end of March, a slight step up from February's 1754.
Meanwhile 188,234 green assessements were lodged, which is a big increase over the previous month's 25,138. The increase of 163,096 marks the highest number logged and a rise of 40%.
As for Green Deal Plans, 2,000 household were shown to have plans 'in progress'. Five hundred and thirty two were 'new' (quote accepted), 473 were marked as 'pending' (Plan signed) and 995 were 'live' (all measures installed). Of the measures installed, boilers accounted for 30%, followed by photovoltaics (25%), solid wall insulation (17%) and loft insulation (9%).
A spokesperson for the DECC commented saying that the Green Deal was always a "long-term" project that would deliver results "over a long time frame", but that didn't stop detractors from speaking out. House of Commons Public Accounts Committee chairman Margaret Hodge had this to say:
"It is pathetic when you consider that the Coalition promised to be the greenest government ever yet is spending millions of pounds on a scheme that is not even performing at the margins. Sadly, the Green Deal is looking like it is extremely poor value for money."
Is the Green Deal beyond salvagable at this stage?