Blog: How long before the Green Deal dies a death?

I’m probably the last person you’d describe as morbid. But this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about death. Like a miserable Hamlet of the energy world, contemplating the mess […]

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By Vicky Ellis

I’m probably the last person you’d describe as morbid. But this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about death.

Like a miserable Hamlet of the energy world, contemplating the mess that is the Green Deal has left me with more desperate questions than answers.

It’s terrible to wish an early death upon anything, particularly something with a good aim at the heart of its existence.

That would be like hoping an ice-cream van has a terrible crash on its way to the park, cruelly stopping children from getting their sticky mitts on a Mr Whippy.

Or fervently wishing Father Christmas has one too many brandies and somehow stacks it off a chimney halfway around the world on Christmas Eve.

That would, frankly, be a bit sick. But I’m not so inclined to agree when it comes to the Green Deal.

Surely an early end to the much-touted government scheme would be more like putting a dying moggy out of its misery after a highway hit and run? Or cutting off an infected limb?

Tempting homeowners to buy insulation with the aid of a loan sounded like a great idea at the start of the whole fiasco. What could be simpler, we cried? The problem is, it’s been anything but.

Last April in this blog I asked whether from manufacturers’ perspective, the scheme was like a ticket to the Oscars – or a trip on the Titanic.

In September we had the EU waving its gnarled stick over the whole proceedings, unhappy with the reduced VAT rate for solar panels which makes them eligible under the scheme.

Fast forward to this week and it emerged that only one, ONE house has fully availed itself of the Green Deal loan so far. That’s a truly pathetic statistic.

As a commenter on ELN’s coverage of that revelation wondered, after all the faff, could it even end up being cheaper – or at least, far less hassle – to just get an ordinary loan from a bank for home improvements?

And could the £16million already spent – with a total £125m committed to it from the Green Investment Bank – be better used elsewhere, by city councils directly? The trailblazing example of Stoke on Trent which has improved 38,000 homes since 2008 with £31m using cash from the Green Deal’s ‘tester’ Go Early ECO scheme suggests so.

It’s undoubtedly a harsh truth that well promoted, better explained, the scheme could have been a brilliant source of jobs. In 2011, ministers thought the Green Deal would be supporting at least 65,000 insulation and construction jobs by 2015. Sadly, it’s been handled by the Coalition about as well as the £9k tuition fees – and appears to be viewed by many homeowners just as toxically.

As it stumbles on, a Frankenstein’s monster of a policy, surely the Department of Energy and Climate Change needs to be taking a good hard look at whether it’s worth the costly experiment – or better to switch off the life support.