Greg Barker says the ‘soft’ launch of the Green Deal last week was not in fact a launch, stoking further confusion over the policy


The Green Deal did not launch last week, energy minister Greg Barker has said, stoking further confusion about the status of the government’s flagship energy efficiency policy.

Speaking at a panel debate on the Green Deal at the Tory party conference, Barker responded to the chairman’s opening remarks - which mentioned the “quiet” launch of the scheme last week - to deny this is what happened.

“It didn’t launch last week,” he told the audience. “What happened was that the first part of the Green Deal architecture went live.

“The Green Deal per se has several different parts but it would be incorrect to say that the Green Deal launched either loudly or quietly last week.”

This is despite insistence on the part of the Department of Energy and Climate Change - and ministers, including Barker - over the past year that the Green Deal would be launched in October, albeit through a “soft” or “staged” launch.

As Building revealed last month, although the Green Deal legislation was in place for 1 October, householders will not actually be able to get work done until the end of January next year, when the Green Deal finance plans are in place.

Barker said: “Green Deal finance will go live at the end of January…it is also important to stress that the Green Deal will not be launched and then the government will go and focus on the next scheme…this is something that is going to take years to deliver.

“We will be judged not on the success of the first few weeks but over a number of years.”

Barker also hinted that consequential improvements - the proposed requirement for those extending or altering their properties to implement Green Deal energy efficiency measures -may still be brought in to bolster the Green Deal but only after initial consumer reaction to the scheme is gauged.

Earlier this year the controversial proposals were dubbed a ‘conservatory tax’ by parts of the media and were seemingly quashed by Number 10.

Barker said the policy required “sticks as well as carrots”, but said the proposals were being overseen by the Department for Communities & Local Government.

As Building reported last month, energy secretary Ed Davey has already indicated that the consequential improvements proposals could yet be introduced in a slimmed down form.

He added: “What I want to see is how the market reacts because at the moment it’s all hypothetical. Until we see the market up and running we won’t know which is the most effective way to get customer take-up.”

Barker’s comments on possible incentives for Green Deal take up came as the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) launched a new cross-industry taskforce to advise government on how to best incentivise take up of the Green Deal.

The new group, which includes a range of key stakeholders including contractors Carillion, Willmott Dixon and consultant Sweett Group, will assess a range of possible financial incentives for householders, including using variable rates of council tax and stamp duty.