Green Deal advice to be made easier to understand, says Government

The Government intends to make green deal advice easier to understand in a bid to encourage greater take up of suggested measures.

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Help may finally be at hand for the many people who have been left more than a little confused by the vast quantities of information available on their green deal advice report, as the government has announced plans to make sure that green deal advice reports are in future simpler and easier to make sense of. The reports will also contain more information on what support is available to homeowners who wish to go ahead and carry out an installation.

Although the details are yet to be confirmed, the move comes as a component of the government’s initiative to streamline the green deal so as to increase the notice taken of advice given in the reports. The latest figures show that while 101,851 assessments have been done, just 219 households have actually had installations fitted under a green deal plan, with another 954 on the cards.

The government blames the hard to understand reports for the slow uptake of green deal plans, as well as the time it takes for a new market to get itself established, and the fact that a lot of people are still unsure of what the green deal is capable of doing for them. Another suggestion is that whilst there are 107 registered green deal providers, only very few of them are ready to issue plans.

Recent research from the Department of Energy and Climate Change has indicated that while uptake of green deal finance plans has not been great, about half of those who have had an assessment carried out have gone ahead and had at least one measure installed. This suggests that rather than taking out green deal plans, many people are funding their installations themselves.

The review also looks at the potential of setting up an online green deal assessment which would allow people to go directly from assessment to the installation phase. If this occurs, it will be a considerable change to the green deal model which has thus far depended upon a home visit from a green deal advisor.

The announcement stated that “We know through research that customers put a high value on the green deal assessment. But some do want to move straight from an online assessment to installation,” with a DECC spokesman commenting that whilst the plans are in the early stages, they will be for those ”who really know what they want, and who are likely to look at funding some or all of the measures themselves, the online assessment will be a way of removing some of the bureaucracy surrounding the green deal”.

Linn Rafferty, a senior coordinator of the Green Deal Advisor Association, said that: “It would be a great concern, for both green deal assessment organisations and for consumer protection, if there were any suggestion that customers might be able proceed within green deal without the need for an assessment by a green deal advisor.  That’s because the advisor’s visit is the only opportunity for impartial face to face advice to be given to the customer.”

Alongside other measures, the government is also considering introducing plans to quicken the process by which green deal providers are approved and to give them greater levels of support once they are. One method of achieving this would be to make energy performance certificate data easier to understand so that providers have an easier time of targeting potential customers. Lastly, the government intends to re-examine the ‘golden rule’, a provision under the green deal which results in the offsetting of your green deal loan repayments by the savings you should make on your usual energy bills.

Some of the proposed changes are likely to come into effect from January 2014, whilst more refinements are being brought out as necessary alterations to legislation move through Parliament.

Image by Lewis Castle UHI

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