A new Green Deal….?

Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The Government is launching a new funded scheme to encourage householders to properly insulate their homes. Hurrah and huzzah. We’re all saved. The planet is saved.

Except…it’s not really a new scheme, more an extension of an existing scheme to bring more households into its remit. It will add a further £1bn of funding to the existing £6.6bn ‘Help to Heat’ (no, I had no idea what this is, either) energy scheme, so that some households who basically earn too much to meet the current eligibility criteria can improve the insulation of their properties.

The devil, of course, is in the detail and that key word ‘some’. Households must be in the lower council tax bands, and with EPC ratings of lower than a D.

Which is probably right and proper but there are a still those in the ‘squeezed middle’, people who don’t fall into this category whose homes also need help. Living in a house with a council tax band on E, or F doesn’t necessarily make you a millionaire.

It is, however, a recognition that previous schemes have not done anything like what they needed to do. The Green Deal was badly thought out, badly administered and overly complicated. It put far too much emphasis on the need for installers to be accredited and certified. This is not in itself a bad ting of course, but it does add an extra burden of administration and paperwork. The schemes that came after that were really no better. This latest one, due to start in March, is I suppose, less Son-of Green Deal than Great-nephew of Green Deal.

There is a nugget of hope in the wordy government release announcing the scheme though. And it is this quote: “long-term funding certainty across for the industry, supporting the growth of supply chains and green jobs in the sector, as the government takes further action to tackle fuel poverty and reduce energy bills.” At least there’s an acceptance that there is a chain involved, that investing in homes will help the economy as well as help to reduce our need for energy to heat out homes.

It’s not going to be enough. It never is, nor, with the huge number of hard-to-insulate homes that make up a massive proportion of our existing housing, can it ever be. Despite what Insulate Britain demand, there just isn’t going to be the money to fully insulate every home in the country without taking money from elsewhere. Even if the energy companies were made to fund it themselves from their current crop of huge profits.

There is no one solution to this. We need to use less energy; we need to think about how we use energy more carefully. There is going to be a government campaign to encourage people to turn their boiler flow temperate down, and switch off radiators in empty rooms and draught-proof doors and windows. We shouldn’t really need to be told this, but the government does, I suppose need to be seen to be doing something. Maybe it should include ‘put an extra jumper on’ that would also help all those High Street retailers whose Winter stock is piling up thanks to the unfeasibly warm November we had, up until this morning.


About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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