The unexpected and overnight decision by the government to end its Green Deal Home Improvement Fund has run into criticism
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced suddenly that it had closed the £190 million Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF) to new applications with immediate effect. It said that due to ‘overwhelming public demand’, the allocated budget had now been reached.
The response was immediate from trade associations and businesses that had spent much time and resources committing to the scheme. One example was the Builders Merchants’ Federation BMF which stated: ‘The BMF is very disappointed to hear this news. The GDHIF may not be a perfect solution to the underlying problem but it illustrates that cash incentives do entice families to act to improve the thermal performance of their home.’
The government had only launched the new funding in June where householders could claim £7,600 for improvements under the scheme. The unilateral decision to close on 24 July, caught everyone by surprise, especially as it was done overnight. The DECC states on its website that it ‘will monitor voucher redemption rates and will consider whether to launch a further offer should funds become available’.
The BMF was not impressed and complained in its response: ‘There will be undoubted anger and exasperation in the supply chain that ministers have (once again) chosen to change direction in policy and cut funding at short notice without warning. Earlier this week, we learned that due to the Fund’s runaway success, DECC had modified the criteria to prolong the amount of money available. Yet a few days’ later, it has been closed.’
In accusing the government of a ‘feast-and-famine approach’ that exasperated businesses in planning their investment decisions, manufacturing processes, sales operations and trading forecasts for the future, the BMF was voicing many similar complaints.
Swale Heating, a Kent based installer business, had thrown itself into the scheme, hailing the launch of the funding scheme as offering great prospects, although recognising its previous problems. Matthew Edwards, sales director said: “In its current format, Green Deal has struggled to achieve a fraction of the projected take up that was expected. What was initially hailed as the biggest home improvement programme in the UK since World War II has been marred by problems and setbacks so it’s little wonder that consumers have so far failed to buy into Green Deal.” However, he went on to state that the GDHIF was “a major step forward”.
Mr Edwards could hardly conceal his disappointment on hearing the news of the abrupt closure of the fund. “The DECC should have been prepared for this kind of response [by the public] and ensured that sufficient funding was available to meet demand. Now many thousands of people who haven’t had the chance to apply for funding yet will be disappointed.”
Caption An approved Green Deal Installer, Swale Heating had put much time and resources into supporting a scheme that it believes has let both the public and the business down.