The House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee has begun an inquiry into the failure of household energy-efficiency schemes - and the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has submitted views on what went wrong with the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation.

The inquiry is based on a critical report from the National Audit Office (NAO). The NAO found that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) had not achieved value for money. The Green Deal was poorly formulated and badly implemented, and did not persuade residents that energy-efficiency measures are worth paying for.

In its contribution to the Public Accounts Committee, the BMF said:

  • The ‘pay-as-you-save’ concept is fundamentally sound but was not working well. The Green Deal suffered from undue levels of bureaucracy (notably consumer credit, accreditation and warranties/guarantees), unattractive finance and poor implementation. Legal, financial and IT complications meant it began slowly, was too complex, and was under-promoted to the public
  • Minsters got carried away in their ambition and foolish remarks were made that came back to haunt them. The Green Deal was supposed to be the “biggest home improvement programme since the Second World War”. A prediction that “10,000 Green Deal plans would be signed in the first year”, proved to be very wide off the mark.

This is not the first time the BMF has contributed to a parliamentary inquiry into the able-to-pay market. Last autumn, the Energy & Climate Change Select Committee conducted a similar one that looked at (a) why previous approaches failed to deliver significant results, and (b) what lessons must be learned from earlier schemes. DECC has not replied to its report published in March 2016.

The National Audit Office said the Green Deal, which cost taxpayers £240m, failed to deliver any meaningful benefit. DECC’s aim to encourage residents to pay for improvements looked good on paper, but yielded low-levels of energy and carbon savings, and cost £17,000 per home loan.