More than one in ten companies approved to participate in the Government’s Green Deal energy efficiency scheme have been sacked after breaking its code of practice.
Government ministers have admitted that a proportion of approved contractors for the scheme have been banned, increasing fears among thousands of house owners that they may have been cheated by dodgy contractors.
[blockquote align=’right’]The latest tranche of £70 million funding from the “Green Deal Home Improvement Fund” is a giveaway that’s available from Monday 16 March[/blockquote]
This represents a fresh blow to the controversial scheme introduced by Labour as a flagship initiative of its environmental policy. Dogged by controversy from the start the scheme initially attracted too few participating households, then too many as it offer in effect a “cash back” scheme.
The aim of the scheme is to encourage people to install insulation or other improvements which cut energy usage. It started by offering loans for homeowners and landlords to fund the work out of savings in future energy bills.
But ministers found that this attracted almost no takers, so after the scheme stalled they started to offer cash grants, which have proved hugely popular, so much so that at one stage the scheme was shut down after one day when a new tranche of money became available.
The latest tranche of £70 million funding from the “Green Deal Home Improvement Fund” is a giveaway that’s available from Monday 16 March, with homeowners able to claim up to £5,600 for work on their properties, new energy efficient boilers, solid wall insulation, and double glazing.
But, according to the Daily Telegraph, new figures show that more than 350 of the companies registered to carry out pre-installation assessments have had their certification cancelled after breaking the rules, meant to ensure they are properly qualified and deal with complaints correctly.
To claim the grant money for improvements a household must have a recent Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) or pay for an assessment, carried out by a qualified registered assessor. This should identify exactly what work is needed to bring the property up to an acceptable energy efficiency rating.
Once the work needed is established the grant money is allocated, along with what is usually a significant contribution from the property owner, before the work is carried out by an approved Green Deal installer.
Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group Which? told the Daily Telegraph:
“Rogue practices and quality issues have been a thorn in the side of the Green Deal, and the number of assessors and installers that have had their authorisations removed is a cause for concern. This is the Government’s flagship energy efficiency policy, so consumers need to know they are being treated fairly.”
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“It is currently difficult for consumers to know if an assessment or installation has been done to a decent standard, so it is important that firms carrying these out are properly certified.
“Firms that are not up to scratch to deliver energy efficiency to households should be identified as early as possible during the certification process.
“Green Deal firms struck off for letting consumers down need to be stopped from being re-certified, as should phoenix companies attempting to get recertified under a different name.”
Citizens Advice has warned about scammer cold calling households and claiming to be from the Green Deal scheme, while Trading Standards reported dozens of complaints.
A spokesman for the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) said:
“The vast majority of Green Deal authorised companies provide quality services that help keep homes warm and reduce household energy bills.
“To help protect consumers they must meet strict criteria and undergo rigorous checks and to uphold these standards we take action against any company which breaches the Code of Practice.”
Figures show that more than 4,700 households have had work done to date through the original Green Deal loan scheme, and around 13,000 have had cash giveaways.
Around 10% of Companies Approved to in the Government’s Green Deal Energy Efficiency Scheme have been Sacked – http://t.co/dJZEbICD62
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) March 17, 2015