A flagship government-backed loan scheme to help people give their homes green makeovers has been “disappointing”, the UK energy and climate change secretary has conceded.
But Ed Davey said that while take-up of green deal financing had been poor with just a few hundred homes using it, 1 million homes in England and Wales will have been insulated under the broader green deal scheme and its sister Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) since they began in January 2013.
In a speech to the Ecobuild conference in London on Thursday afternoon, Davey said: “The good news is that we have a lot of assessments to go on. But when it comes to converting green deal assessments into finance plans, the story so far has been, let’s face it, disappointing.” He admitted the scheme started off “too clunky and too complex”.
But Davey told the Guardian that “people have missed a huge success story in ECO”, that has driven most of the 1 million home installations. The scheme is designed to help insulate the homes of people in fuel poverty and subsidise hard-to-treat homes, such as older properties that require expensive solid wall insulation. Changes to the ECO, announced in December after a political row over the cost of green and social levies on energy bills and confirmed in a consultation launched today, will weaken its solid wall targets but maintain its fuel poverty targets.
Davey also said that new incentives, due to be announced later this month, would spark fresh interest in the green deal, whose brand he argued had not been tainted despite the lack of interest in green deal finance, where loans to pay for energy efficiency measures such as a new boiler are attached to a property rather than an individual. Davey said the incentives would likely be welcomed by the solid wall industry and offset some of the changes made to ECO.