Measure set to be unveiled as questions are raised over future of chief construction adviser

The Treasury is set to give homeowners stamp duty incentives in the Budget in order to retrofit their homes under the Green Deal, Building understands.

The measure, seen as crucial to ensure take-up of the government’s flagship policy, would be a partial victory for the industry, which has been calling for both incentives and mandatory regulations to force home improvements.

The government says the Green Deal, designed to prompt energy efficiency improvements to 14 million homes and offices in the next decade, will create 250,000 construction jobs.

A source close to department of energy and climate change (DECC) confirmed the incentive was very likely to be part of the Budget. It is not known if the changes will take the form of penalties for poor performance or tax cuts for high energy efficiency.

Andrew Warren, who heads the DECC committee on how to boost Green Deal take-up, said he was “quietly optimistic” the stamp duty incentive would be approved by the chancellor on 23 March.

“I would be very surprised if this didn’t take place. All the signals are good,” he said.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We do not comment on speculation ahead of the Budget.”

However, at the same time, the climate change minister Greg Barker appeared to rule out mandatory regulation to force homeowners to upgrade their homes at this week’s Ecobuild conference. This defied advice from most industry groups that they are crucial to give the industry certainty.

Speaking at the green building conference on Tuesday, Barker said that setting basic energy standards for homes would upset people.

In a separate Ecobuild talk, former construction minister Nick Raynsford warned the current minister Mark Prisk that he was “very worried” the Green Deal lacked funding incentives and that cowboy builders could wreck the scheme’s credibility.

Prisk was also non-committal over the future of the role of chief construction adviser Paul Morrell. He confirmed Morrell would work to the end of his contract in November when the role would be reviewed.