UK Green Building Council

Construction leaders call for urgent action on Green Deal

Date released: 
27 Jun 2013

The UK Green Building Council today reacted to the publication of the first quarterly Green Deal statistics by publishing a letter from construction industry leaders urging all political parties to come together to ensure the Green Deal doesn’t fail. 

According to the statistics, 241 Green Deal Plans had been requested by 16 June, with just four Plans signed.

In an open letter orchestrated by the UK Green Building Council, a cross section of chief executives from housing, energy, finance and construction companies urged the three main parties to collaborate to address “major concerns” with current retrofit policy.

Paul King, Chief Executive of UK-GBC, said:

“It is obviously disappointing that more Green Deal assessments have not been turned into finance plans, and it shows just how crucial additional incentives are to drive take up.  But we simply cannot let this fail – retrofitting the UK’s housing stock is too important for reducing energy bills, improving health, creating jobs in the construction sector and avoiding costs of new generating capacity – and no one has a credible alternative.

“Business leaders are saying loud and clear that we need to forge a new consensus between politicians of all parties, the private sector and the public around retrofit, to depoliticise something that simply has to be done. It will require some tough choices, but it is absolutely in the public and nation’s best interest to address this as a matter of urgency. The Green Deal provides an important foundation to build on.”

The letter – addressed to Energy Secretary Ed Davey, Climate Minister Greg Barker and Shadow Climate Minister Luciana Berger - outlines a number of barriers to the uptake of energy efficiency measures through the Green Deal such as the lack of long-term structural incentives, the current interest rate for Green Deal finance and the complexity of the scheme.

Notes to editors

John Alker, Director of Policy and Communications at UK-GBC, will be available for comment following the publication of Green Deal statistics at 9.30am on Thursday 27 June. To view the statistics click here.

Full text of the open letter is below or can be viewed here:

To:

Rt Hon Ed Davey MP, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change

Rt Hon Greg Barker MP, Minister of State for Energy & Climate Change

Luciana Berger MP, Shadow Minister for Energy & Climate Change

OPEN LETTER

Re: Ensuring success for the Green Deal and the retrofit agenda

We are taking the unusual step of writing the same letter to all three of the main political parties, setting out our major concerns with current retrofit policy and our belief that we can only address this most urgent of challenges with a greater degree of cross party consensus, and collaboration between Government and industry.

Government’s own figures show that meeting our legally binding carbon targets requires a high level of retrofit across the UK’s 26 million domestic properties, at an average of one home per minute between now and 2050. Clearly this is a monumental task, but it also represents a tremendous opportunity: to reduce energy bills, improve health, provide jobs in the construction sector, and avoid additional costs of new generating capacity.

However, to have any chance of successfully tackling this, it will require Government – either this one, or indeed any future one, to address the following major issues:

Green Deal interest rates

The current rate of interest for Green Deal finance is in danger of acting as a major disincentive to take up, as well as minimising the extent of the measures available in a Green Deal package. Taking inspiration from the effect of recent Government intervention to support new build homes, Government should explore, with stakeholders, what options are available to reduce risk associated with providing Green Deal finance – even if this means greater intervention in the market.

Long term structural incentives

Even if Green Deal was available at a much lower cost of finance, long term structural incentives would still be needed to ensure sufficient uptake. Council Tax or Stamp Duty could be used to send a signal to consumers and the market on the direction of travel, and both could be applied in a fiscally neutral way to HMT. Regulation could also be used, in particular Consequential Improvements, which Government itself has estimated would lead to an additional 2.2 million Green Deals being taken up.

Stakeholder engagement

There needs to be a better on-going dialogue between Government and those trying to deliver the Green Deal on the ground, in order to overcome obstacles, reduce unnecessary complexity, identify future issues and learn lessons. At the very least this should take place through a high level industry advisory board co-chaired by a minister and a senior industry figure. It could also involve a more operational body, or ‘hub’, which Government has previously expressed support for.

Long-term certainty and political consensus

There is an increasing sense that the Green Deal, and indeed energy bills more generally, are being used as a political football, which is not good for confidence in the market. These challenges will affect any party, or parties, of government and very bold decisions will be required. We believe there needs to be a new consensus forged between the main parties around retrofit, to depoliticise what is ultimately a long-term challenge that it is in the nation’s interest to successfully address.

Yours sincerely

Paul King - Chief Executive, UK Green Building Council

James Cameron - Chairman, Climate Change Capital

Mark Clare - Group Chief Executive of Barratt Developments Plc

John Frankiewicz - CEO, Willmott Dixon Capital Works

Peter Hindle - General Delegate, UK, Ireland and South Africa, Saint Gobain

Ian Marchant - CEO, SSE Plc

Gene Murtagh - CEO, Kingspan Group Plc

John Sinfield - Chief Executive, Knauf Insulation

Russell Smith - Managing Director, Parity Projects & Acting Chairman of RetrofitWorks

Nigel Taylor - Chief Operating Officer, Services, Carillion Plc

Peter Walls - CEO, Gentoo

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