- 70% of pensioners would NOT consider signing up to the scheme
- People signing up to the scheme get insulation fitted then pay for it over a 10 to 20 year period through a levy on their electricity bill
- Fears the scheme offers bad value thought to be behind the low take-up
10:17 EST, 19 November 2013
10:51 EST, 19 November 2013
The government’s flagship ‘Green Deal’ scheme to help thousands of families insulate their homes and cut energy bills has failed.
Ministers hoped 10,000 homes would have work done in the first year, however new figures reveal the total since January is just 219.
The figures were published as a new survey revealed that 70per cent of older people, many of whom desperately need to make their homes warmer, would not consider signing up to the scheme.
Price rises: Ministers hoped 10,000 homes would have work done in the first year, however new figures reveal the total since January is just 219. The poor take-up comes against a backdrop of rising utility bills
The research was conducted by Age UK, which warned thousands of people are likely to die this winter due to medical conditions made worse by the cold.
It said the Green Deal should be torn up and replaced with a bigger and more radical scheme to insulate cold and drafty homes street by street.
Age UK charity director, Caroline Abrahams, said: ‘The government’s flagship Green Deal is clearly failing to deliver what it set out to achieve.
‘We firmly believe that the only sustainable way to solve the problem is to implement a far more ambitious energy efficiency programme…No-one should be cold in their own home.’
The Green Deal allows people to borrow money through approved providers to pay for loft insulation, double glazing or efficient boilers and so cut energy use.
The loan is secured against the home and the householder pays down the debt over 10-20 years through their electricity bill.
Insulation scheme: 10,000 homes were expected to be insulated this year under the government scheme – but just 219 have been
However, many people are suspicious about whether the scheme offers good value for money and fearful about taking on a debt that is tied to their home.
People they may find it difficult to sell their property if there is a Green Deal loan attached to it. This could mean they are pressured to pay off the loan during a sale, which could generate penalty charges.
The Green Deal involves an assessor inspecting the property to establish what work needs to be carried out. However, there are concerns that some of these don’t know have the necessary expertise.
There is also a concern about the cost of these inspections. In theory, they should cost no more than £120-£150, however some people are being charged £300.
The Age UK study found one in three older people had to wear extra layers to keep warm at home last winter, and one in eight – around 1.3 million older people – said their home was not warm enough.
One in five – around two million – felt their homes would benefit from being more energy efficient.
Despite this, nearly 70 per cent would not consider using the Green Deal. The main objection was financial with people worried about the cost and getting into debt.
The Green Deal is one of a number of government initiatives designed to make homes warmer. The separate ECO scheme applies a levy to all bills to raise money which the energy companies use to install free insulation in the homes of the poor.
Various other levies are applied to the cost of energy to make electricity produced from fossil fuels – gas and coal – more expensive. These carbon taxes are designed to encourage a shift to green power, such as wind and solar.
Age UK says it would be better to invest the billions of pounds raised through these taxes to replace the Green Deal with a more ambitious programme to improve home energy efficiency.
It said the UK has the worst insulated housing stock in Europe and a shameful record on fuel poverty – more than a million older people cannot afford to heat their homes adequately and many millions more are struggling to pay their energy bills.
As a result, it warned that as many as 24,000 older people – around 200 a day – may not survive this winter.
The painful need for action will be emphasised on Friday when the UK’s biggest energy supplier, British Gas, puts up bills by 9.2 per cent – £131 a year – to an average of £1,471.
Ann Robinson, from uSwitch.com, said: ‘Warmth is a basic necessity, yet sky-high prices will leave many families cutting back or turning off their heating completely. This will have a knock-on effect on health and well-being – quality of life will suffer for the very many who will be going cold.’
Energy and Climate Change minister Greg Barker attempted to put a positive spin on the figures. ‘Over 100,000 Green Deal assessments have now taken place, and over 80 per cent of the households assessed said they intend to install at least one energy saving measure,’ he said
In fact, the vast majority of those planning to install an energy saving measure will not be using the Green Deal.
Mr Barker claimed more than 270,000 properties have been made more energy efficient this year under the ECO scheme.