Industry starts promoting Green Deal…
Firms have been able to market their services since the beginning of this month as Green Deal providers, assessors or installers as the “soft launch” of the government’s flagship green retro-fit policy got under way.
But funding to allow homeowners and landlords to sign up to Green Deal plans will not be available until legislation takes effect on 28 January 2013.
In addition, the scheme is still hampered by confusion on how it will operate, with concerns about inadequate consumer protection and possible cash flow problems for SME installers.
On 1 October, the Green Deal market officially went live. According to the Green Deal Oversight and Registration Board this will see “authorised organisations [start] to put in place their operating models and any marketing materials to start promoting themselves and the Green Deal”.
Also from 1 October, the Register of Green Deal authorised participants was made live at www.decc.org.uk/orb. It will contain the details of all those authorised to operate under the Green Deal and so able to promote themselves using the Green Deal Quality Mark. The website will be updated weekly.
But various groups in the industry have highlighted a raft of potential problems with the Green Deal, and are calling on the government to take action before the scheme becomes fully operational.
Trustmark led a group of 20 organisations, including the CIOB, is urging the government to take action against the risk of rogue traders cashing in on the Green Deal via “ancillary works”, such as carrying out roof repairs before loft installation is laid. At the moment, there is no requirement for companies carrying out these works to be covered by the Green Deal Code of Practice.
SMEs also want more protection against possible cash flow problems. James Lee, marketing and communications manager at the Glass and Glazing Federation, said: “Most small businesses are likely to be acting as Green Deal installers, working for Green Deal providers. This introduces an extra payment layer into their operations, which could mean waiting until other firms have finished their aspect of the work before they get paid.”
But even after a protracted soft launch, one Green Deal provider predicts that the market will be unlikely to take off until summer 2013. Rob Lambe, managing director of Willmott Dixon Energy Services, said: “The soft launch is fine, but the financing systems are still not fully resolved, and it doesn’t seem they will be until spring. I can’t see anything significant happening for at least six months after the January official launch.”
Lambe was more optimistic in the short term about work coming from the Energy Company Obligation scheme. ECO is the £1.3bn a year subsidy for hard-to-treat properties where the work required – such as solid wall insulation – would not meet the so-called “golden rule”. The fund is raised from a charge levied on the “big six” energy firms – British Gas, EDF, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power Business and Scottish and Southern.
ECO also technically began on October 1. However, the Department of Energy and Climate Change only closed consultations on how key details of the ECO subsidy will work in mid-September, delaying the likely start until the end of December or January when it replaces the existing energy company-funded retrofit programmes, CERT and CESP. British Gas is unlikely to begin ECO works until 2013.
Energy minister Greg Barker and the 22 pioneer Green Deal providers
… but £2m ad campaign can’t quell the doubts
The Department of Energy and Climate Change will launch a £2m advertising campaign this autumn in the run up to the full roll out of the Green Deal next January, but the industry has voiced concerns that the initiative could misfire.
Paul Bogle, policy director at the National Federation of Builders, said: “DECC is trying to encourage behavioural change with its campaign, but this only works if you catch people at exactly the right time. It doesn’t begin until 2013, so people can’t even sign up to it yet. Also, it’s about the long term rather than quick wins.”
Brett Amphlett, policy manager at the Builders’ Merchants’ Federation, said: “First, that sum will not go very far. And what is really needed is a cohesive, well thought-out message, over the first 2-3 years of the Green Deal, to engage the public in taking action.”
A DECC spokesman told CM: “This is not a large scale advertising campaign at all. We’re looking at raising public awareness, but it is the client-facing providers who will be honing their own communications and marketing approaches.”