Green Deal needs involvement of small firms to meet its objectives, industry tells government

Without the involvement of small and medium enterprises the Green Deal will fail to meet its objectives, the construction industry has told government.

The government’s consultation on the Green Deal, which will provide energy efficiency measures for householders paid for by a charge on their energy bills, closes today.

In its response to the consultation the National Federation of Builders (NFB) said its aims would not be best met by large companies, where workmen may have to travel long distances.

Paul Bogle, policy manager at the NFB, said: “It will have non-local people doing local work and that will increase the carbon footprint and defeat the object [of the scheme].”

“What we need is an additional model which allows a home owner to say, ‘This is the person I want to do my work’,” he added.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) echoed the NFB’s response saying it would be difficult for smaller builders to offer the finance packages necessary for the Green Deal.

Brian Berry, director of external affairs at the FMB, said: “This is a lost opportunity as it is the local builder who is best placed to advise householders about energy efficient improvements when they are carrying out other home improvements or repairs.”

Richard Griffiths, policy and campaigns consultant at the UK Green Building Council added: “There’s more government could do facilitate the participation of small and medium enterprises in the scheme.”

He said that the inclusion of SMEs was critical to the Green Deal’s potential to create jobs.

Respondents were also critical of the lack of incentives for the Green Deal. Although the government has said it will use £200m to kick start the scheme both Griffiths and Berry said they would be keen to see a more long term plan to encourage people to take up the scheme.

Griffiths added that the complexity of the scheme should be re-examined to ensure that it was simple for consumers, and viable for businesses. He said it was already difficult to sell energy efficiency and any scheme aiming to increase uptake needed to make the process as smooth and easy as possible for consumers.

“If you can do that it removes costs for business and makes it more understandable for consumers. Plus, less costs means more measures that can be installed under the Golden Rule [to reduce energy consumption],” he added.

The Green Deal forms a key part of the government’s plans to meet its commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.