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Green Deal: FMB eyes merchant tie-up

The Federation of Master Builders is working towards a partnership with the Builders Merchants Federation that could help ensure contractors win lucrative Green Deal work.

The two trade bodies have held exploratory talks on ways they could provide a Green Deal finance and services partnership.

The Green Deal, set to launch next year, will offer building owners the chance to undertake energy-saving projects using a loan expected to be paid off through a reduction in bills.

The government hopes to retrofit 14 million homes by 2020 under the scheme.

But the FMB is set to meet with Department of Energy and Climate Change officials next week to raise concerns about the level of involvement its members will have.

It hopes a tie-up with the BMF, which represents wholesalers of materials and is hoping to work with City financiers to act as investors in the scheme, will benefit all parties.

FMB director of external affairs Brian Berry said: “We are trying to ensure our own supply chain is on an equal footing with major retailers and energy service providers when it comes to providing the Green Deal. There is a real concern that SME builders could be excluded.

“We have held exploratory talks with the BMF, which is looking to become a part of the financing process, to see whether there could be a link-up for our members.

“If the BMF became a Green Deal provider there could be a good working arrangement because of the established links between us.”

Under the Green Deal, assessments of buildings will be carried out to determine which energy-efficiency measures would be cost-effective, before a financing package is put in place to provide them.

BMF secretary Peter Matthews confirmed it had held talks with DECC officials and trade bodies including the FMB about how it could deliver Green Deal packages.

He said: “It is important that we get a level playing field for builders’ merchants to deliver the Green Deal as well as the big energy companies and retailers.

“We are looking at options to work with organisations like the FMB to put together a way of organising a Green Deal services package where we could be providers working with City financiers.”

Mr Matthews admitted that energy service companies held an advantage on providing Green Deal services through their access to customer information databases. But he added that the DECC needed to clarify how the assessments of buildings would be
made transparent.

Meanwhile, the FMB will next week ask the DECC to commit to supporting smaller contractors as they look to access Green Deal financing.

Mr Berry said: “Not all contractors will want to be part of a supply chain to providers like Marks & Spencer or John Lewis for example, and a lot of our members will not want to invest in training or accreditation unless they are sure there will be a return from the Green Deal.

“A lot of smaller firms are going out of business and see the Green Deal as a way of providing new opportunities in a growth area but they need sufficient incentives to start and assurance that they will be able to access finance.”

Climate change minister Greg Barker told the latest Energy Bill committee meeting this week: “We want robust consumer protection, but want to equally make sure we are creating a framework that SMEs, individual traders and local suppliers can access.”

Mr Barker added that further details on financial models and incentives for Green Deal take-up would be considered as part of secondary legislation to be brought forward in the autumn.

Meanwhile, the government released more information on the Green Deal, including provisions to ensure only accredited builders would be able to win work under the scheme.

It also released a range of energy-efficiency measures that could qualify for installation.

The Electrical Contractors Association welcomed the publication of the measures. More than 20 measures are under consideration, including condensing boilers, energy-efficient glazing and doors, lighting controls and solar PV, and the DECC stated that more may be added.

ECA chief executive Steve Bratt said: “The ECA is pleased that the DECC has included measures such as improved lighting and building and our members are well placed to install these types of improvements.

“We trust that homes and small businesses will be able to access funding for the energy-efficient improvements that will have the most impact in a given property.”


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