Gearóid Lane, CEO, AgilityEco
The previous Tory-led administration herald their “flagship” Green Deal with much hyperbole – “the most ambitious home improvement programme since the second world war”. The dictionary definition of “flagship” reads “The ship in a fleet which carries the commanding admiral.” Needless to say, the Commanding Admiral and all government-paid crew had long since jumped flagship when DECC scuttled it last Thursday.
So it was left to those that had been taken in by all the hype to bear the consequences: self-employed Assessors, each of whom had spent thousands of pounds of their own hard-earned money getting trained as a GDA; and small businesses that went through the considerable pain and expense of becoming registered, on-boarded GDPs. Not to mention thousands of hard-pressed householders, who were partway through the process and now have no access to Green Deal finance to fund their energy efficiency makeovers.
The timing and short-sightedness are remarkable. Yes the Green Deal had fallen a long way short of the targets originally set – thanks in no small part to the ridiculously excessive complexity created by DECC itself and in part to unrealistic, politically motivated targets. BUT...
- It was finally starting to work well. GDAs and GDPs had managed to find ways to guide customers through the morass of complexity and were beginning to get them signed up in their numbers. In the week prior to DECC scuttling its flagship, the Green Deal Finance Company quoted £2.7m of new Green Deal Finance, to over 700 households, a massive increase compared to previous months.
- The decision has left 24 ambitious Green Deal Communities projects, all funded by the same DECC, stranded at a crucial point in their delivery phase. We understand that DECC is now aiming to claw some of its £80m of Green Deal Communities grants back from these Local Authorities, which will be interesting!
- There was every prospect that commercial lending could have been brought into the Green Deal Finance Company to make it self-sustaining. We understand that positive discussions were already underway in that respect. DECC pulling the plug on GDFC on Thursday must surely make this job infinitely more difficult.
- Have the full consequences of scuppering the flagship been thought through? For example, the Private Rented Sector Energy Efficiency Regulations, an important piece of legislation to help tenants living in the leakiest F and G rated properties, say that these tenants will have the right from next April to demand landlords to make improvements, but give the landlord a get-out if the improvements can’t be funded through the Green Deal!
A poor decision, made at the worst possible time. Disappointing, yes. Surprising, no. Nice one, DECC.