The industry is calling on the government to avert ‘disaster’ over the Green Deal as it seizes what it sees as a last chance to influence the policy.
Construction firms are still awaiting clarity over issues including accreditation, financing and market take-up.
The Green Deal consultation document, originally expected today but now likely to be pushed back to next week, is thought unlikely to include financial incentives on VAT reductions or stamp duty.
The need for clarity on the Green Deal was among the priorities raised with construction minister Mark Prisk at the first meeting of the government’s Green Construction Board, whose full membership was announced this week.
Speaking to CN, Mr Prisk said: “One of the first remarks at the meeting was on the Green Deal; that people within industry want to know how it will work and the details.
“Although the GCB is not running it, I can’t think of a better forum to test out the practicalities of what’s going on, and to feed that back.”
The government hopes the scheme will retrofit 14 million homes by 2020 and support around 100,000 jobs by 2015.
Sources said they expect the industry’s response to the consultation document will be fast-tracked because the scheme’s launch is less than a year away.
Electrical Contractors Association head of environment Paul Reeve said one area he was particularly concerned about is that extra certification will be added to the existing qualification landscape.
“People are already trained in this work and it would be irresponsible to burden them with further qualifications under the Green Deal. Government needs to know there is a ‘plan B’ in which local contractors, rather than major energy companies or retailers, offer a much more direct route to the homeowner.”
It is understood a draft paper of potential financial incentives drawn up within the DECC to maximise take-up of the scheme is being considered by the Treasury, but is unlikely to be part of the consultation document.
David Langdon partner David Rees said that he expected the consultation to be presented for responses in the way the Department of Energy and Climate Change wishes to see the scheme rolled out, rather than seeking further options from industry.
He added that while there was plenty of scope for the scheme to go wrong, it could also be a big opportunity for industry and the government to meet energy targets and kickstart the property refurbishment market.
Other incentives being considered within the DECC include an extension of the Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance, whereby tax is reduced for energy-efficient buildings.
The DECC is to seek a contractor to manage processes such as registering assessors, installers and providers, collecting fees and compiling evidence.
On the industry side, medium-sized contractors have held early talks about forming consortia to become Green Deal providers due to fears that SMEs will be locked out of the market.
Federation of Master Builders director of external affairs Brian Berry said: “I think the consultation document will be quite open in terms of methods of delivering the Green Deal, which means we might be well into next year before we know more.
“A lot of people may not be convinced by the Green Deal and they might wait till 2013/14 before using the scheme.”
One source, who has held discussions with the DECC on the Green Deal, told CN the issue was being used as a political football rather than attempting to change the way both industry and homeowners think.
“My main worry is that there will be a few people who use it, it doesn’t work the way it should in terms of savings and the whole thing collapses, which will be a disaster.
“But I don’t think many people will be looking to take this up as it stands, either as a contractor or provider, because they are not clear about the stages.”
However, a DECC spokeswoman denied the government intends to press ahead with its measures regardless of the consultation from the industry. She said: “We have engaged stakeholders in all aspects of the policy developed for consultation, including running several industry working groups over the course of the last year.”
The industry’s Green Deal consultation wish-list
Clarify the ‘golden rule’ which says how savings outweigh costs, including details on interest rates, and future energy prices;
Detail the financial incentives to attract demand among businesses/homeowners;
Detail the impact on property prices and the outcome of homeowners defaults on mortgages with Green Deal loans tied to properties;
Describe how energy company obligation works and what level of funding will be made available to low income and vulnerable households to cover energy efficiency improvements;
Clarify whether assessors will be able to choose new products or will they have to be certified;
Explain how the accreditation system will work for individual workers within contractors and clarify the assessment process.