Energy secretary confirms Green Deal retrofitting work has been put back by four months

The government finally admitted this week the implementation of its flagship Green Deal scheme has been delayed until 2013, with retrofit work now not expected to come to market until February.

The Green Deal was due to start this October, with the industry hoping it would lead to a spike in retrofit work in the final quarter of 2012.

However, energy secretary Ed Davey this week confirmed that, although the legal framework for the Green Deal will be in place from 1 October, households will not be able to get work until after 28 January when the finance mechanism to enable them to pay for the Green Deal through their energy bills is in place.

In March, Building revealed that the six major energy firms had told ministers they would not be ready to deliver the payment mechanism for the Green Deal until “first quarter 2013”. Back then the government refused to confirm this delay.

But in a public Q&A session this week, Davey said: “Essentially, most aspects of the Green Deal will start on 1 October - but the finance plans can only be signed from 28 January next year … Under the Green Deal legislation, you have to enter the plan before the work is done.”

He added that the government would not “ramp up” promotion of the Green Deal until January.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesperson confirmed that although households could get their homes assessed for energy efficiency improvements from next month, the work could not be carried out until after 28 January.

The news comes amid concerns the Green Deal’s “soft launch” and delays to its full implementation could undermine the industry, with insulation industry leaders writing to ministers this month warning of job losses.

Andrew Warren, director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, who was a signatory to the industry letter, said he did not expect the Green Deal to be fully implemented until September 2013: “Everyone anxious to see the Green Deal succeed will be alarmed that the original concept of a big launch in October 2012 has now gone.

“It’s little wonder that the CEOs of insulation firms are warning of 44% job losses next year - a very different reality compared with that rosy picture contained in the original government projections of quadrupling insulation employment by 2015.”

Last week the industry united, through the Construction4Growth campaign, to call for the government to focus on boosting the Green Deal in a bid to drive economic growth, as Building revealed the dire impact on the Green Deal of Number 10’s move to block the so-called ‘conservatory tax’.

Keith Marshall, chief executive of construction skills body SummitSkills, which is backing the campaign, said the delay to the Green Deal confirmed the industry’s “worst fears”.

He said the government had caused a “great deal of uncertainty” in recent months and the industry was unclear on its commitment to its flagship scheme. “There are real question marks over it now,” he said.

A DECC spokesperson said the government would “introduce the Green Deal through a responsible and controlled approach”.