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Call for Green Deal finance boost

The UK Green Building Council has called for the government to use its Green Investment Bank to provide finance for retrofit work.

The council warned a “big question mark” hung over the issue of home improvement financing through the flagship Green Deal scheme.

Under government plans, home and business owners would get a grant for energy improvement schemes, to be paid back through savings on their bills.

Director of policy and communications John Alker told CN the council hoped the proposed Green Investment Bank could provide third-party finance to homeowners to upgrade their properties.

He said: “We envisage a third-party finance vehicle that can raise funds and administer them. An element of government under-writing would help to keep interest rates low.

“Energy companies or large contractors may be asked to go to the private finance market themselves and the debt will be seen on their balance sheet.”

The government is due to finalise its intentions for a bank later this year. Chancellor George Osborne confirmed in October’s Comprehensive Spending Review that it would be seeded with £1 billion of money, but said the initial capital investment will only be made in the 2013/14 tax year.

The UKGBC said it believed there was a far stronger role for construction companies to play in delivering bank funds.

Mr Alker called on the government to show “strong leadership” in establishing the need for energy efficiency schemes to reassure homeowners that energy efficiency makes economic sense.

Communities minister Andrew Stunell (pictured) has outlined a scheme that will enable homeowners and tenants to receive tailored advice on making their homes greener and save money.

The scheme would see details contained in Energy Performance Certificates, Display Energy Certificates and Air Conditioning Reports made publicly available.

The information would include the address of the building to which the certificate or report relates, its energy efficiency rating, the recommended measures to improve its energy performance, details of the energy assessor and, subject to Parliamentary Approval of the relevant legislation, whether any Green Deal finance has been borrowed.

Companies working on upgrading homes as part of the Green Deal will be able to access information about the energy efficiency of properties with EPCs and deliver tailored advice.

The Federation of Master Builders director of external affairs Brian Berry said: “For a long time we have said EPCs should be used to trigger property upgrades.

“This can only happen if councils and other accredited companies have information about the energy performance of homes in their area.”

 

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