Government Launches Green Deal

The Government’s new Green Deal has been launched this week.

The scheme aims to reduce fuel poverty by making energy efficiency measures such as insulation more affordable to householders. This will be achieved by allowing people to take out loans of up to £10,000 to make their homes more energy efficient. The loans will be paid back over a 25 year period through ‘small additions’ to household energy bills. These loan repayments are intended to be lower than the amount of money that has been saved on energy; this has been referred to as the Green Deal‘s ‘golden rule’. The Green Deal is intended to be taken up by up to 14 million homes. The government estimates that the Green Deal could lead to the creation of 65,000 jobs.The Green Deal may also offer households that take up the scheme £150 cash-back. Estimates place savings on energy bills at around £94 annually by 2020. It was also announced that Energy companies must contribute £1.4 billion to the scheme annually until 2020.

At the launch of the Green Deal Chris Huhne stated:

“The Green Deal is about putting energy consumers back in control of their bills and banishing Britain’s draughty homes to the history books. By stimulating billions of pounds of private sector investment, the Green Deal will revolutionise the way that we keep our homes warm, making them cosier, more efficient – and all at no upfront cost.

“The Green Deal is also a massive business opportunity for firms up and down Britain, helping to power the economy and creating jobs. From one-man bands and local authorities, to the big supermarket and DIY stores, we want as many providers getting involved as possible because that’s what will give consumers the best deal.

“I want to insulate Britain’s homes not just from the cold weather, but also from the chill winds of global fossil fuel prices. It’s these that are pushing up consumer energy prices, and it’s why our balanced package of policies aimed at achieving energy savings and shifting to more home grown alternatives is the right one for the economy and all of us who pay energy bills.

“There are certainly costs to replacing our ageing energy infrastructure with modern clean power stations, and we take very seriously any impact of our policies on what consumers and businesses pay. we’ve repeatedly taken steps to reduce this – by removing some planned levies on bills and making others more cost effective and within budget.

“But a crucial – and too often ignored -priority of our whole strategy is to reduce the amount of energy we use in our homes.”

Initial reactions to the launch of the Green Deal have been somewhat mixed.

Brian Berry, director of external affairs at the Federation of Master Builders released the following statement:

“With rising energy prices the market for retrofit work is certainly there and is worth at least £3.5 billion every year, but consumers will need to be convinced that the Green Deal makes financial sense to them. It’s pleasing therefore to see the proposed cash back incentive in the consultation, but a reduced rate of VAT for Green Deal approved measures is needed in addition to boost demand and create much needed jobs in the building industry.”

Richard Lloyd, executive director at the consumer group Which?:

“It’s difficult to see how hard-pressed homeowners will have confidence in how the ‘green deal’ might work for them if the suggested savings are initially based on averages rather than on their personal energy use.

“The ‘golden rule’ was supposed to reassure people that green deal repayments would not exceed the savings made on energy bills. But if this is based on average figures then it could be meaningless for many.

“The government estimates that average household energy bills will be 7% lower than they would have been by 2020 because of new energy and climate policies. But this is based on the big assumption that schemes like the Green Deal will appeal to consumers. If take-up is lower than expected, energy bills will be pushed up even further.

Steps have already been taken to reassure those that have raised concerns about the Green Deal.

The treasury announced shortly after the scheme was launched that £200 million had been set aside to fund incentives to those who take up the scheme in it’s early stage. Although it has yet to be determined quite what form these incentives will take, further cash-back offers, discounts on council tax and cuts to stamp duty have all been suggested.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

“I can announce today that as part of the Autumn Statement we will provide £200m of funding for new and additional support to enable a special time-limited ‘introductory offer’ for the Green Deal.

“An offer that could save early adopters hundreds of pounds.

“A fund to get the Green Deal off to a flying start.

“One that will work with the Green Deal mechanism and the ECO to motivate thousands of more consumers to take up energy efficiency measures, over the next two years.”

The almost immediate announcement of this incentive fund indicates the strength of will within the government to make the Green Deal a success.

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