Travis Perkins’ sustainability boss says firm is having to turn customers away from Green Deal because of continued problems with the scheme’s IT systems
Travis Perkins’ head of sustainability has said the firm is being preventing from offering its customers work under the Green Deal solely because of continued problems with the scheme’s IT systems to process orders.
Paul Joyner, director of sustainability at the construction merchant, said the firm had received a huge number of enquiries from consumers and businesses wanting to find out about the Green Deal or requesting an assessment of their property, but that the firm was currently having to turn them away.
Speaking at a roundtable event the Conservative party conference this week, hosted by the UK Green Building Council in partnership with Building and Ecobuild, Joyner said this was because without the IT systems, which were promised by the Green Deal Finance Company (GDFC) to process individual Green Deals, Travis Perkins was unable to process orders in a cost effective way.
He also said the scheme, the government’s flagship policy to encourage domestic green retrofits, was unlikely to work at the current rates of interest, of over 7%, charged by the GDFC on loans, and called on the government to “back the policy”.
He said: “We’ve got a backlog of consumers and businesses who registered interest in the Green Deal or for an assessment, and were saying to them we’d love to do an assessment, but we can’t offer the finance because we can’t process the finance efficiently because we can’t integrate the systems because [the Department of Energy and Climate Change] and the GDFC haven’t built their systems yet.
“We’ve built our infrastructure, we’ve built our marketing, we’ve built our product set, we’ve built our installation base - the only thing that’s stopping us is that we can’t get the finance.”
However, a spokesperson for the GDFC denied that there were IT issues preventing Green Deal accredited providers from being able to offer Green Deal finance.
He said: “There were IT problems in the spring but any of those problems have now been ironed out. There are a number of companies we’re working with that are successfully offering finance. A huge simplification process is going on related to the IT, but there are no showstopper reasons preventing orders being processed.”
The spokesperson added that an evaluation, conducted by consultant Capital Economics, had concluded that the rate of interest on Green Deal finance was very competitive against equivalent products in the market.
Joyner’s intervention follows severe criticism of the slow start to the policy, launched by the government in January, for which only 12 individual deals have so far been completed.
At last week’s Labour party conference Labour said it would replace the Green Deal with a new scheme, to be called Energy Save.
Joyner said Travis Perkins had relaunched its own Green Deal programme three times because of delays in the rolling out of the scheme.
He called for the government to back the scheme and improve the interest rate offered by the GDFC.
He said: “It’s not a market mechanism that can live off the back of 7.1%.
“If we can get it at the right rate and the govt is prepared to stand behind the GDFC or any other finance provider [and] say we understand this market and we will support this market at a competitive rate then you will get a rapid take up.”
Also speaking at the roundtable, Conservative party backbench MP Oliver Colvile, a member of the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum, admitted that the Treasury was blocking green policies because it wasn’t convinced they could harness economic growth.
He said: “The question is then whether we can afford to deliver the green agenda in that environment.
“The Treasury is not convinced, I don’t think, about the whole business of the green agenda in the first place, and that’s not just ministers or George Osborne, that’s the civil servants who take a very jaundiced view on this.”
DECC has been contacted for comment.