The Green Deal was ‘abysmal’

Isaac Occhipinti (left) and Neil Schofield (right)
Isaac Occhipinti (left) and Neil Schofield (right)
Isaac Occhipinti (left) and Neil Schofield (right)
Isaac Occhipinti (left) and (right)

The verdict on the Green Deal is in, with MPs describing the scheme as ‘abysmal’, overly complex and requiring excessive paperwork.

Following the publication of the Household Energy Efficiency Schemes inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee, the Energy and Utilities’ (EUA) head of external affairs, Isaac Occhipinti, said: “We warned the government repeatedly that the Green Deal was fundamentally flawed.”

He continued: “The Green Deal policy failed to engage with both installers and consumers and delivered little in terms of energy efficiency, the report only confirms what we already knew.

“The government is aware that we believed that the Green Deal was flawed. Together with our members, we met with it on numerous occasions to try to make changes that would make the scheme more robust and better value for the end user, but the government did not listen.

“It comes as no surprise that so few people took out a Green Deal loan, they were always going to be a difficult sell to homeowners, particularly as the loan remained on the property and the interest rates were not favourable. Loans by their very nature are also out of the reach of many vulnerable people, probably those living in the coldest homes and most in need of help.

“We must, however, recognise that supporting people to improve the energy efficiency of their homes is a good thing and we would urge the government to commit to a new policy that will deliver on both fuel poverty and carbon targets.

“There are still over 12 million inefficient boilers fitted in UK homes, with almost 80% of homes not having even the most basic controls. Our aging housing stock remains one of the worst in Europe and if we are to support ‘hard working families’, while achieving our carbon emission targets, then a new mechanism needs to be developed.
“It is important that the government learns from the mistakes of the Green Deal. To this end our domestic heating division, the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) in partnership with the government has formed the Domestic Heat Strategy Group. The Group brings together Ministers, officials, stakeholders and industry representatives who can discuss and develop strategies that will deliver for all concerned.

“EUA and its divisions will continue to engage with the government on the development of a new scheme, one that is more inclusive and engages the whole supply chain.

“We need to stand in the installers’ and homeowners’ shoes and understand the barriers, be they lack of funds or limited understanding that prevent them from installing measures within their homes. Schemes that promote more bureaucracy do nothing to tackle energy efficiency and fuel poverty, they only result in installers and homeowners being further disengaged. You can be assured that whatever ultimately replaces the Green Deal, the EUA will be working with the government to avoid past mistakes.”

Neil Schofield, head of external affairs at Worcester, Bosch Group, said: “The verdict of the Public Accounts Committee is damning. Like many others, I was there from the outset, trying to make the scheme workable, but the civil servants at Department of Energy and Climate Change tied themselves up in knots trying to reinvent the supply chain, which made the scheme too bureaucratic and ultimately unworkable.”

He continued: “In trying to ‘gold plate’ every single aspect of the scheme they failed to understand the dynamics of the heating supply chain and the central role that installers play in the consumer decision-making process.”

The Green Deal was wound-up in 2015 having delivered only £50 million of loans despite an initial projection by DECC of a £1.1 billion uptake, that the Public Accounts Committee has subsequently described, in the report, as ‘wildly optimistic.’

Neil points towards the requirement for the UK’s installer base to be PAS 2030 accredited as a good example of why heating engineers failed to embrace the scheme.

“Installers are already Gas Safe Registered and install 1.5 million boilers each year with the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. The requirement to get PAS 2030 accreditation – which only three percent of UK installers currently have – was unnecessary, bureaucratic and eventually self-defeating, because the UK’s installer base ultimately shunned it.”

Neil says lessons can be drawn from the failure of the scheme. “My concern now is that the failure of the Green Deal will be brushed under the carpet and that lessons won’t be learned. The Bonfield Review, which the heating industry is potentially going to be pulled into, is another exercise in bureaucracy and regulation that the industry does not need or deserve.”

He concluded: “I welcome this report and only wish the heating industry had been listened to from the outset, because we could have played a central role in making the Green Deal work. Instead, we were marginalised and our recommendations went unheeded. There are clear lessons that can be drawn from the Green Deal, this situation must not be allowed to happen again.”