The government’s new Green Deal Home Improvement Fund has been guardedly welcomed by Worcester, Bosch Group, with a spokesperson questioning whether lessons have been learnt since the original launch of the Green Deal scheme.
The new fund launched by Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, offers householders in England and Wales up to £7,600 towards the cost of energy efficiency improvements from June onwards.
Neil Schofield, head of government and external affairs at Worcester, Bosch Group, said: “It is extremely encouraging to see the government continue to invest in energy efficiency enhancements and the heating and hot water industry will do all it can to ensure this additional funding is put to good use. With this however, comes a frustration that installers remain excluded, which is a familiar story unfortunately.
“Despite the incentive looking very attractive at face value, installer buy-in is crucial, and we still find ourselves in a position where the vast majority of the nation’s 130,000 well-qualified professionals, including Gas Safe & OFTEC-registered installers, are held back by red tape and the need for costly extra qualifications. DECC’s insistence that Green Deal work is carried out by approved companies means this additional funding simply isn’t accessible to the majority of homeowners, which is a huge frustration.”
He added: “Concerns raised by our industry in response to the initial Green Deal proposals still don’t appear to have been acted upon. The announcement seems to be a little rushed and perhaps politically timed to coincide with the forthcoming by-elections.”
Since the launch of the additional funding, the omission of certain technologies from the line-up of qualifying technologies has also been questioned – a criticism Mr Schofield believes is valid.
He said: “The Minister’s statement also points to the need to replace ‘faulty’ boilers, which ignores the value in upgrading a boiler operating at substandard efficiency. Combine this with the absence of oil-fired boilers from the list of qualifying technologies and we have a significant shortfall in the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund. The boiler is a key element to the Green Deal as it can be used as a trigger for other energy saving measures.
“It would be fair to say DECC has made an oversight in not making certain technologies, such as oil-fired boilers, sophisticated controls, and high-efficiency cylinders eligible for funding. The omission of oil-fired boilers in particular rules out a government-funded boiler upgrade for almost a million homes in rural England and Wales, which could prove to be a missed opportunity.
“Last month’s RHI launch coupled with this additional allocation of Green Deal funding could go some way to making energy efficiency measures more attractive to homeowners, but for this to happen, buy-in from the nation’s heating engineers needs to be encouraged quickly.”