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Local supply chains stand to benefit – if they get involved

The scale of the task is huge. Six million lofts need insulation, as do seven million solid walls. Six million homes are without full double-glazing. Seventy per cent of homes are without a full set of heating controls. This is what we need to tackle in the Green Deal.

Designed to lower carbon emissions, help reduce fuel poverty and stimulate the construction economy, the Green Deal is a core government policy.

Households will be able to commission retrofit work on their homes, paid for by borrowing against future savings on their energy bill. It will go live in the autumn of next year, but pilots have already started.

Innovative councils will look to work across the public and private sectors to take Green Deal projects forward, releasing billions of pounds in spending in the construction industry.

The scale and scope of these will vary: some may simply encourage residents to take up the Green Deal, others will look to raise finance themselves or as part of consortia.

In another approach, councils can form partnerships with commercial Green Deal providers to refit local housing.

The benefits to local authorities are substantial. They will have control over planning and delivery, certainty of outcomes targeted at most needed areas and residents will be assured retrofit work is done by a partner. It will also stimulate local supply chains.

Each approach to the Green Deal has the potential to open up new sources of finance and work to wider council objectives.

While some scepticism clearly remains among the public and banks will need clarity on the finance model, The Local Government Association is working with councils and the Department of Energy and Climate Change to establish best practice and encourage the widest possible uptake of the Green Deal.

For the construction sector there are massive opportunities. From working with utility companies that have already established themselves in the renewable energy sector to working with councils and other new providers, the next few years have the potential to create a boom in green jobs. Government estimates put the potential number of jobs at 250,000 by 2020, with a total value of up to £4.5 billion.

Get involved

Where will these jobs be? The challenge is for SMEs to get involved where councils and other providers are actively engaging with the market.

The success of the Green Deal will depend on the construction sector. Quality and standards will be a key, as will a good relationship with the public.

If the scheme gets a reputation for delivering poor quality work, the energy bills will not go down at the rate expected, the public will not want to let providers into their homes and financiers will be less likely to provide backing.

The alternative is work procured directly by large energy companies, potentially losing benefits to the local supply chain.

Keith House is the Lib-Dem leader of Eastleigh Borough Council


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