Barker trails ‘soft launch’ with ‘controlled growth’

The government is considering limiting the roll-out of the Green Deal amid concerns the industry will not be fully ready to deliver the flagship energy efficiency scheme from its scheduled October launch date.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) confirmed it was considering imposing a cap on the number of Green Deals that can be provided over the first few months of the scheme, in a bid to ensure the industry is able to deliver.

The move follows lobbying by the major energy firms to delay the launch of the Green Deal after it emerged that some would not be ready to implement the payment mechanism for the scheme in October.

The payment mechanism is critical to the Green Deal as it enables consumers to repay the cost of energy efficiency measures through their energy bills.

Climate change minister Greg Barker has insisted the scheme will be launched in October, but has said the government will go for a “soft launch” with “controlled growth”.

Ministers are undermining confidence in the Green Deal

Luciana Berger, shadow minister

Phil Gilbert, head of new residential services at energy firm E.ON, said he had discussed with DECC the move to cap the number of Green Deals available when the scheme launches.

“We need to ramp up slowly. We don’t want fantastic propositions the supply chain cannot follow through on,” he said.

But Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said he was concerned that if the government imposed limits, it may put off consumers who are unable to access the scheme.

He said: “I’m concerned about the impact that will have on overall demand if people are looking to get a Green Deal and then can’t.”

He added that it looked increasingly unlikely that the scheme would be fully ready to launch in October.

The move comes as it emerged this week that banks were refusing to finance the upfront investment needed for the Green Deal unless the government-backed Green Investment Bank contributed £300m to the scheme.

The Green Deal was originally intended to be entirely financed with private sector funding, but banks remain wary that without public sector backing the scheme is too risky.

Shadow climate change minister Luciana Berger said the move to “deliberately limit the uptake” showed that “ministers don’t believe it is fit for purpose”.

“Far from the flying start we were promised, continued delays and mixed messages from ministers are undermining confidence in the Green Deal and jeopardising the scheme’s success,” she said.