We did it!

The triumph of hope over experience

Whoo Hoo! Permit me, if you will, to gloat, just a little over the fact that there will apparently be an announcement in the PreBudget Report later today of a Boiler Scrappage Scheme, similar to the car scrappage scheme.

Yup, the very same scheme that plumbers merchant Mick Williams and the brilliant Reheat Britain team – and me – and half the plumbing and heating industry have been banging on about since Mick launched his petition with Downing Street back in July.

We need to hear the full details before we can really be sure that it will work for merchants but it just goes to show what you can achieve with a brilliant idea and perseverance. Oh, and the internet of course. This campaign got started on Twitter, the social networking website which for some of us has become a phenomenal communication tool. The benefits of social networking probably the subject of a whole other blog, but suffice to say, without the fast and furious communication methods that the web offers, we would have had to work a lot, lot harder to get our message across.

This government – unlike the Tories (see Grant Schapps’ talk at the CPA lunch) – like the idea of scrapppage schemes and this one is a no brainer. Old, inefficient boilers produce more carbon and use up more energy than do newer, more efficient ones. That’s why high efficiency models are now mandatory under the Building Regs for goodness sake. Householders save money, the government gets to say it’s doing something to reduce emissions, the environment gets less noxious stuff pumped out into it and the heating industry – plumbers, merchants and manufacturers – get to sell more. See, it’s a win/win/win.

The car scrappage scheme, so apparently successful, mainly benefitted foreign car makers – you try getting hold of a VW Golf under the scheme, but this scheme will be much more home-based. OK, some of the boilers that are likely to be sold will come from abroad as so many of our manufacturers are owned by or own European concerns. But a great deal more will be manufactured here.

As I said, we will need to look carefully at what exactly is being proposed as it’s vital that merchants get a good crack at this. What we don’t want is another CERT-type affair with all sales under the scheme being channeled through a small handful of sellers. This scheme had been mooted by several people when the car one was launched, but it was an independent that kick-started it and all merchants need to be able to benefit from it.

Watch this space, but in the meantime, again: Whoo Hoo – we did it!

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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