The Green Deal is a disappointing failure

A Parliamentary committee has attacked the Government’s running of the sinking Green Deal and called for an urgent overhaul of the scheme’s incentives and marketing strategy. The DECC and the Green Deal Finance Company (GDFC) were singled out by Members of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, for poor promotion and communication, which “further undermines a programme that already suffers from poor public understanding and interest". Rather than facilitating access to energy efficiency measures and creating momentum in the market, the Green Deal has caused frustration and confusion for both consumers and the supply chain. The first eighteen months of the Green Deal have been largely wasted.

The Green Deal

The Green Deal, launched in January 2012, was designed to help make energy-saving improvements to homes (insulation, heating, draught-proofing, double glazing, renewable energy generation) and was the Government's flagship. The fund is closed to new applications. Although over 300,000 households have asked for assessments, only around 4,000 have signed up to the financial packages offered.

The committee sends out a clear message: "The Green Deal could play a crucial role in meeting the UK's emission reduction targets, but a combination of financial, communication and behavioural barriers has meant that many potential customers and partners have been disillusioned and alienated. It is imperative that these barriers are understood and addressed if the scheme is to move forward.
Retrofitting the UK's existing housing stock is an ambitious and worthwhile aim. It cannot be met without substantial efforts to promote energy efficiency across all regions and consumer types. DECC has so far failed to make a sufficiently convincing case for energy efficiency in principle, particularly at a household level."

Despite the failing scheme, all parties agree that the green deal should be reformed, not scrapped. The committe advises The Government: "The lack of public commitment towards selling Green Deal plans is contributing to the increasing uncertainty surrounding the future of the Green Deal. Better communication across the Green Deal stakeholder chain is necessary." And: "The Department and The Green Deal Finance Company should communicate a consistent message on what success will look like."

In it's recommendations the committee has partly adopted the ideas of the UK Green Building Council concerning council tax discounts. Financial incentives, such as stamp duty discounts and variable council tax rates for more energy-efficient households, as well as other measures and regulations, should be experimented with.

The committe also gives an important lesson in marketing: "A one-stop place for consumers to determine their options would greatly simplify the customer journey and encourage take-up where households may not be aware of the combination of options available to them."