Climate change minister says government’s figures showing collapse in loft insulation installations are ‘out of date’

Climate change minister Greg Barker has admitted the government’s own figures are “out of date” in his first significant response to Building’s revelation that loft insulation installations could fall more than 90% under the Green Deal.

In a posting on a public message board, Barker said the predictions, made by the government but revealed by Building, that loft insulation installations will fall 93% and cavity wall installations will fall 70% were “already out-of-date” and that the government “will be bringing forward further measures and incentives to support [the Green Deal”.

The comments come as insulation industry figures held talks with Downing Street advisers in a move sources said showed the level of government concern over the success of the scheme.

Barker also said the government was looking carefully at measures which could help the insulation industry make the transition from the existing CERT regime, which subsidises loft and cavity wall insulation, to the system planned under the Green Deal, known as the Energy Company Obligation.

Transitional arrangements have been called for across the industry in responses to the government’s Green Deal consultation, which closed last week, including by the Confederation of British Industry, but previously the government has been unwilling to address the issue.

Barker said: “I appreciate the insulation companies have genuine concerns and I will be paying close attention to the issues that they have raised to make sure we effectively bridge the transition to the new world of the Green Deal.

“The coalition is absolutely committed to transforming all of Britain’s homes over the next two decades and our priority is to start with the fuel poor. However most of their homes need to benefit from far more than just the basic loft and cavity wall measures that they were offered under CERT.”

He said the “quite conservative” insulation industry needed to recognise it was “dealing with a very radical government,” and that “failure is not on the agenda”.

Barker made the comments on the Comment Is Free section of the Guardian newspaper’s website, after an editorial in his name was criticised by readers.

Andrew Warren, director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, described the comments as “very encouraging”.

He said: “The confirmation that there will be further measures and incentives is very helpful. With meetings at Number 10 it feels that things are moving in government.”

John Sinfield, managing director for manufacturer Knauf in northern Europe, said he was among representatives of the insulation industry to discuss the Green Deal with David Cameron’s special adviser on energy and climate change, Ben Moxham, last week.

He said he welcomed Barker’s comments about considering transitional arrangements, but said his description of the insulation industry as “conservative” was “not helpful at all”.

He said: “It is good he’s talking about transitional arrangements. It shows that even if his officials aren’t getting how important it is, he is.”