Builders say Green Deal reforms are not enough
Government plans to improve take-up of its Green Deal scheme, are inadequate, say construction industry lobbyists.
Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC)announced changes to the Green Deal scheme yesterday aimed at streamlining and simplifying its underperforming energy-efficiency scheme.
However, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) says that these changes do not go far enough. The FMB says that the government needs to cut VAT on renovation and repair work and fund a high-profile communications campaign to market the scheme.
FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “It is clear that the government recognises that the Green Deal has so far not delivered and requires significant changes if it is to successfully engage home owners and installers alike. However, the changes to the Green Deal simply do not go far enough. There are two fundamental elements missing from the list of changes. Those behind the Green Deal need to look at how to encourage and support more SME installer firms to take up training so they become qualified to deliver improvements as certified installers. Right now it is just not cost-effective for many small businesses to take employees off the job to attend courses when demand for Green Deal work has been tepid at best. A voucher scheme or cashback offer for firms that avail themselves of certified training would go a long way to upskilling the nation’s SME builders to deliver the Green Deal.”
Mr Berry added: “Although the increase in funds available to local authorities this year through the Green Deal Communities initiative from £20m to £80m is welcome, a far more effective financial incentive would have been the introduction of a reduced rate of VAT for housing renovation and repair. This is something that would have a positive impact across the board by incentivising those who want to engage with the Green Deal, but also those who want to pay for the work upfront – and not just those who have just moved house.”
He concluded: “More broadly, we are extremely concerned with the direction of government policy in relation to energy efficiency. Funding has already been cut for energy-efficiency programmes since this government came to power in 2010 and at best the various announcements today mean no further cuts. At a time when energy bills are rising and home owners are struggling to pay their heating bills, the government is failing to prioritise energy-efficiency work and is certainly not behaving like the ‘greenest government ever’. Investing in energy efficiency is the only way to protect home owners from the unavoidable long-term increases in the cost of energy. The government needs to make improving the energy efficiency of our homes the UK’s number one infrastructure priority.”
Source: The Construction Index