The Government gets it wrong!

All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.

The Green Deal ain’t gonna deliver. As breaking news stories go, it’s about as surprising as the one about the Pope being catholic and the bears in the woods.

When DECC – you know, part of the Government – says that the Government’s own flagship green initiative is likely to lead to a 93% drop in loft lagging, you know that someone, somewhere has dropped a you-know-what. You know that someone in Government has made a huge error, confusing their own ideas and rhetoric with what normal householders are likely to actually want or do.

Either that, or Greg Barker was once savaged as a child by a roll of glassfibre insulation and has taken it upon himself to systematically destroy the entire industry.

I’ve asked this question before but, who in their right mind is expecting householders, already struggling with the rising cost of everything they might ever possibly need, to voluntarily borrow money in order to spend it on loft or cavity wall insulation when they aren’t even taking up the cheapo CERT deals that currently exist? NEWSFLASH: IT WAS BORROWING TOO MUCH MONEY WHICH GOT US INTO THE FINANCIAL MESS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

I don’t care that the Government’s rationale for getting us to borrow more money is that we will save on our heating bills and can pay it all back that way. Any gain, in either energy bills or carbon emissions, is going to be cancelled out by the first person to think: ‘ooh it’s a bit chilly in here I can’t be bothered to go and get a cardi, I’ll just whack the heating up a bit. After all, we’ve had all that insulation put in, so it’s not going to cost as much’.

Unless there is a clear, financial benefit that comes to us in the form of folding money, there is going to be a miniscule take-up of the Green Deal.

Apparently, amongst the ideas being thrown around for incentivising take-up are cashback offers (ooh, like the boiler scrappage scheme that the Tories are so dismissive of), council tax or stamp duty rebates, and changing building regulations so that people who renovate their homes improve its energy efficiency at the same time.

Well, the only ones of those likely to work are the cashback and the council tax rebate – as they are the only ways to get cold hard cash into people’s hands. That’s what will motivate the populous to get moving on this. And it’s no good really forcing people via the building regulations to improve energy efficiency whenever they want to renovate because all that will do is make them not bother to do any of the work at all.

It does not strike me as rocket science – if you want people to do something then do not put obstacles in their way – give them incentives. Or promote it in such a way that they do it willingly and having thought that it was all their idea in the first place. But that will require a) some investment and b) a government ready to consider that it might not have got all the answers.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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