By Andy Wynter, Green Deal Consulting MD

A new energy home improvement scheme deal that will give householders and businesses up to £10,000 worth of efficiency improvements for no upfront cost, is threatened with collapse before it is even announced, companies involved are claiming.

The Government has refused to tell the companies expected to assess premises what the professional assessment advisers are going to be paid - throwing the system into last minute chaos and holding up vital training and planning.

One company operating nationwide, Green Deal Consulting, is organising special training for 50 advisers from all over the UK, with more to follow, without knowing what they will be paid or whether it will be economical. Each candidate has to go through rigorous training and has had to pass at a high standard before being accepted.

“This is madness,” Green Deal Consulting MD Andy Wynter said: “If we are not careful, this will go the same way as the energy assessments needed for house sales and we could end up with a price war that brings the whole scheme to a grinding halt. Once again the Government is failing to show leadership.

“All the Government has said is they want fees to be determined by the market to enable flexibility. This is no way to run a scheme like this because the energy assessors are required to conduct a really thorough, un-rushed and detailed analysis of each premises so that a proper needs assessment is arrived at. Without this accurate assessment the energy savings could be wildly out, and the customer will have to make up the shortfall. It is vital that the customer is fully protected or they will find themselves out of pocket
within months.”

Andy, who has been paying six staff for the past seven months, besides recruiting the advisers who will carry out assessments, said it was vital that the assessors were paid well so they could make proper and detailed assessments for each household.

“This cannot be allowed to become a numbers game in which they skip through assessments just to ensure they make a living wage,” he said. “There has to be a proper, enforceable fee structure to ensure standards are maintained across the country. This is a serious scheme, involving millions of pounds and you cannot run it like a market or a car boot sale.”

The Government energy home improvement scheme, due to start in October, is part of the “Green Deal” project and is designed to bring all services together, making it seamless to operate. The scheme will involve a group of nationwide providers, who will pay for improvements by appointed contractors, through loans, and recover the money through lower energy bills, taking the savings via suppliers like British Gas until the work is paid for.

Householder and commercial premises owners will not have to pay anything up-front and there are provisions for people moving house during the payback period. But if the calculations are wrong or flawed householders and companies will find themselves responsible for the shortfall and assessors/advisers could also find themselves liable.

“The scheme is imaginative in principle and it means in many cases householders could get up to ten thousand pounds worth of work, including new heating systems; but I have asked at meeting after meeting with the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Green Deal providers, typical costs of assessments and have met a blank wall," said Andy.

“Without this how can the assessors be expected to work to a quality standard when they may have to do several every day. If it is peanuts then they’ll skip through assessments to make up their money, which will destroy the whole system of excellence and quality control."

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