Green Deal struggling as scheme signs just four customers since launch
The Government's Green Deal has had just four customers sign up to the scheme since its launch five months ago, according to the latest figures.
The figures also show that up to June 16 2013, 241 new Green Deal plans are on the verge of being signed, while 38,259 Green Deal assessments have been recorded.
Software and legal issues have been reported as the reason behind the poor uptake in energy efficiency work via the scheme, while others have raised concerns over the scheme reaching the Government's predictions of 10,000 Green Deal plans in 2013.
Commenting on the first quarterly Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) statistics, Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker, said:"The Green Deal is an ambitious and uniquely long-term programme designed to upgrade the energy efficiency of Britain's homes. It's only just getting started, but the early signs are encouraging.
"Getting software systems running and finance into place for Green Deal Plans to be signed has taken time, so the numbers here are lower. The very first wave of Green Deal Finance Providers have only just got their individual finance terms and conditions in place and gone live with their software systems that operate this whole new product.
"However, now the first five are up and running, the good news is that we expect up to 50 authorised finance providers to be active by the end of the year, massively increasing the access to finance in the market.
"It will take time as this brand new market finds its legs, but I now expect the number of plans signed to start steadily rising."
Reacting to the figures, the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) called the figures "disappointing".
Head of ACE's Parliamentary Team, Jenny Holland, said: "The Government was bracing itself for today's statistics - and rightly so. Over 38,000 assessments have yielded only 245 requests for Green Deal plans, with only 4 of these actually signed.
"The Government needs to take a long hard look at how high interest rates are deterring consumers. They should urgently consider introducing council tax or stamp duty incentives to help boost take-up - something they have been considering for years, but have apparently kicked into the long grass.
"It's not surprising that DECC chose to bury today's statistics under seven other announcements. The Green Deal is falling well short of being the "game-changer" that Government Ministers promised us it would be - they must act swiftly and decisively to put it back on track."
The Government has been criticised for burying the Green Deal's poor take-up figures under several other announcements today, including an early unveiling of the anticipated strike prices.
Climate change minister Greg Barker today dismissed that the scheme was struggling highlighting that 72,000 people have benefited from measures through the Green Deal scheme under the ECO and the increase in assessments.
Barker said: "Today we've seen that 81,798 installations have taken place with the support of the new Energy Company Obligation, helping those most in need or with particularly hard to treat properties. But this is just the start. 38,259 Green Deal assessments is also a clear sign that many consumers genuinely want to make their homes more efficient; but we are keen to do more.
"78% of people who have received a Green Deal Advice Report, following a Green Deal assessment, said they had, were getting or would get energy saving measures installed. This too is a great sign - many people are increasingly looking to make their homes more energy efficient and keep bills down," he said.
However, in an open letter orchestrated by the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC), 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.
Chief executive of UK-GBC, Paul King, 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."